Home improvement wasn't the only DIY people attempted during last year's lockdown. When spas and salons closed, desperate times called for desperate measures. People did their own nails. They tried at-home facials. And yes, there were likely a number of misguided decisions involving at-home hair dye or cutting bangs.
One company saw a need during the pandemic and filled it in a big way. Olive & June started as a nail salon in Beverly Hills, but founder Sarah Gibson Tuttle flipped her own business model by selling high-quality nail polish and nail tools for DIY manicures and pedicures at home. Through the guidance of online tutorials by Olive & June staff, customers learned how to trim, shape, and polish their nails. But even for those who got proficient in their at-home beauty maintenance routines, many would likely agree that it's just not the same as having a more practiced set of hands do it for them.
Now that salons are open at full capacity, commercial real estate investors and retailers should be feeling good that customers are once again clamoring for appointments. The hair salon industry alone is worth $39.5 billion in 2021, with a 28.7% increase in market growth, according to IBISWorld.
"I do my hair toss, check my nails, baby how you feelin'?"
Like Lizzo's hit song reminds us, a trip to the salon is empowering, especially for women and especially after being denied personal care services for so long. Now that most restaurants, bars, concert and sports venues, and other entertainment establishments are operating at full capacity, people want to go out. And they want to look good doing it. Whereas before they could have tweaked lighting and used a filter to look refreshed onscreen for a virtual meeting, it's showtime now. The masks are off and the lipstick is on.
Victoria Emanuele, a master stylist at A.F. Bennett Salon & Wellness Spa in Staten Island, NY, found that her clients had a new appreciation for the work she and her colleagues do. "[Our clients] began to appreciate the skill and craft of salon techs," she said, noting the extensive training she and her fellow stylists and estheticians have completed in their respective fields.
Retail investors and salon owners shouldn't sweat the DIY trend keeping their customers away, even as many raise their prices to recoup some of last year's losses.
Emanuele says it's also the willingness to support a small business that keeps her clients coming back. "They see we work really hard and they want to support us," she says.
The bottom line
Even though many people made do with their 'dos during shut down, they are flocking back to hair salons, barber shops, and spas for their regular treatments by skilled professionals. Sales are still recovering, but spa and salon professionals have proven that they are essential workers to the customers who love and appreciate them.