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Has the pandemic broken the beauty industry?


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Jessica Earl says she is busy again too. She has built a thriving business – @earlsbeautyuk – and is booked up for weeks ahead. 

Gone is the big party shop. Instead she works alone doing nails, massage, facials, eyebrows and eyelashes. She says she won’t reopen her salon, but feels that despite all it’s been through, the beauty industry as a whole will come back stronger. 

‘I know from speaking from my past students and employees that everyone is feeling this pressure,’ she explains. ‘So we will increase our prices, but also increase that value. With such a low in mental health across the country, it’s our responsibility when having this one-on-one time with clients that we are doing the most we can to help them – and vice versa.’ 

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Locking the big red door of her beauty salon behind her, Jessica Earl felt heartbroken. 

Formerly a popular Cheltenham venue that was frequented largely by women celebrating birthdays and hen parties, the pandemic had put paid to its usually bustling atmosphere.

By the time the third lockdown hit and with her business unable to trade, Jessica could no longer afford the £7,000 per quarter rent.

With her business no longer viable, she would otherwise have faced eviction if she didn’t pay up. Instead, she had to make the devastating decision to make her 16 members of staff redundant.

Then, on December 29, 2021, she shut the door for good on her champagne nail bar, Earl’s and Co.

Recalling that last day in December, Jessica, 33, describes how the team sat at the bar in the shop and ‘celebrated, commiserated and cried all at the same time’ about all they had achieved and that the pandemic had forced the business to fold. 

‘It was awful. Completely heartbreaking,’ she remembers. ‘It was my identity for ten years. I was 23 when I opened it and I won awards for being the youngest woman in business in the area. It was a really amazing ride to have Earl’s and Co being such a well-known destination in town. To lose that was hugely devastating.’

Jessica explains that the pandemic also left her stressed and worried for her employees, all of whom ‘had families, had mortgages to pay, rent to pay, and vulnerable members of family at home’. 

Now, she works as a beauty therapist alone, ‘purely because of what the last few years have done’ – she says employing people right now ‘doesn’t make sense’ – and is bereft at what she has lost.

She adds: ‘The atmosphere, the building, the location, everything just worked. I miss it massively.’

Jessica explains that the pandemic had left her stressed and worried for her employees (Picture: Supplied)

There were almost 45,000 hair and beauty businesses operating in the UK in 2020. While there are no official figures yet for how many shut down during the pandemic, the survival rates for the industry was already in decline. 

A 2021 report by the National Hair and Beauty Federation identified it as one of the hardest hit by the UK’s pandemic lockdowns, with turnover falling by an average of 45% in 2020 compared to 2019. Salon capacity also fell to 70% of its pre-pandemic level due to social distancing and enforced closures.

Many beauty professionals claimed that they were victims of discrimination, as female-led industries were hit hardest by Covid. With the beauty industry 91% female and many felt they were disproportionately affected by economic ruin caused by the pandemic, as salons were unable to trade for so long.

And now that the cost of living crisis has hit, even celebrity stylist Nicky Clarke has been forced to close his flagship Mayfair salon after he said the establishment, which has been open for thirty years, was …read more

Source:: Metro

      

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