Pandemic, Policies, Protests: Is this the New Normal?

Janelle Alexis Flatt

June 18, 2020

While in the midst of a pandemic, new policies for the salon, and protests, I’m trying to find a balance between what I feel and what I say. The question “Is this the New Normal?” keeps popping into my head. Since, reopening Janelle Alexis Salon a little over a month ago, here’s my New Normal – at least for the moment.

Man, this pandemic has been crazy!!!

So COVID-19 hit – that, from my knowledge and conversations with nurse clients – was essentially like the flu. The virus itself had been around for a long time, just not this strain. I really didn’t put too much into it. Then the Houston Rodeo was cancelled. That was an OMG moment. Truly when I realized this is pretty serious. With the Governor’s mandatory shut-down of non-essential businesses, our doors closed on March 25th. I knew it was time to adapt. Our rent still had to be paid; there was no grace there. Our team could not work, losing their wages like many others. So what do I do? Enter survival mode. This is what I have always done; something I learned at a young age. You either become a statistic of you become something different.

Innovation is one of our core values. Starting last year, clients could use virtual consultations for color or hair extensions. It’s too easy, you fill out an online form then we meet on FaceTime. These consults were a hit. By the end of March, many were letting their hair woes known – some considering box color or embracing grey’s. Lightbulb moment! After reading a ton of posts on at home color, I decided to go full force on our Beauty Boxes. Combing virtual consults with custom-color kits. It comes with the developer, color, gloves and brushes. Funny thing, I went to work almost every day creating these boxes.

When the Governor announced salons could re-open, I was helping my daughter with her at home schooling while studying for my own final. My phone started blowing up like crazy. And I had no idea why. After reading a few text messages, double-checking the news, I was ELATED!! We were prepared already – masks, sanitizers, and all of the other extra supplies on-hand – so opening back up was not that hard. With thick walls already between each station and chairs more than six feet apart, we were pretty lucky. The last added security measure was placing plexiglass dividers in between the shampoo bowls. There was a little waiting period for Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to release salon guidelines, which are followed to a T. One person in, one person out; no double booking (which has since changed, yay!); sanitize hands; masks worn by everyone; a COVID release waiver; pre-packaged, sanitized smocks; and each stylist charged with cleaning every place the client goes. For those who are immune-compromised or just extra scared, a private room was converted where their stylist can perform services. Making sure clients are comfortable, safe is our number one priority.

At this time, the front and back staff were still furloughed. What does that mean? Basically, the front and back staff was me. I checked everyone in and out. Managed the phone lines, booking appointments, rescheduling, answering questions. Keeping up with laundry. But, I have to say, everyone chipped in. It was absolutely the definition of team work! Through all of this, we submitted several PPP loans. Finally accepted, furloughed employees were able to come back. What a relief! I’m not someone who complains – about anything – but I was exhausted. Add to that stylists asking me questions that I didn’t have an answer to, clients I didn’t have answers for, people complaining about the masks, and honestly just running around without a break. Can I say: I have some white hair in there now. And I am super proud of it. I earned it! Since I hate sitting still having my hair done, they are pretty prevalent.

The most interesting part of my New Normal is simply people.

Fascinated by behavior, I love to sit back and analyze and watch. I hear everything unless people are whispering. But, for the most part, I know what’s going on. Either people are super afraid or they aren’t; some people complain and other’s don’t; some want to follow the rules, others not so much. Those who don’t heed protocols cannot come into my salon. I have to make a conscious choice not to respond to the little stuff; however, I will get tough ASAP if rules are not followed. Here’s the deal, if you don’t sign the waiver you can’t come in; if you don’t wear a mask, you can’t come in; we are not accepting cash, which for me dang, Cash is king! You don’t have to pay any credit card fees, but my girls up front are too important. Some think we are overreacting. Nope! Just following the rules set forth by TDLR.

Next chapter... the protests.

Although I think it is absolutely terrible what has happened nor do I condone the situation, I have to ask: What happened to social distancing? One rule I follow is not posting on social media either left or right. Religion, politics, and abortion is also off the table unless you are in my circle of friends, which is very small. What I do want to say, though, is I am a business owner; I will protect my business. A protest was planned across the street from the salon. Immediately, I jump into action… 1) protect, 2) protect, 3) reschedule clients, 4) close. It’s as simple as that. Am I happy? Of course not. As violence escalates, I must protect my business – clients, team, myself, and property. Did I mention I can’t sit around, not doing anything? My CHL class and test is already scheduled. So yes, I will safeguard at all costs. I may be five foot tall, 115 pounds; however, don’t let that fool you. My mama bear personality can come out.

The other day, one of my stylists told me a Judge may order another shut-down. We all know the number of COVID cases are increasing. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why. If you have to think about it, consider the last few weeks. How many people have been out protesting? How was social distancing even possible? How many protestors flew in? I will not be closing again. Sorry, not sorry. Janelle Alexis Salon is a licensed business by the state of Texas; we follow what the Governor says. My stylists know where my credit card is. They also have my brothers phone number to get me out of jail should it come down to that. Again, protect.

Am I tired? Absolutely! But I am so thankful to be open – especially now that we can double-book appointments. Still sanitizing, following all of the rules by Texas Licensing and Regulation, being super careful where I go, and continuing my Sonoma bike rides is my New Normal. What’s yours?



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