Getting used to a whole new style of hairdressing after lockdown
Next week Helen Humphreys and her staff should have been celebrating their salon's 20th birthday, instead they are busy making plans for how to reopen in a world where coronavirus is set to change how all businesses work.
Like hairdressers across the country, Helen and her team at Sophisticutz, in Astley, near Shawbury, had been anxiously awaiting news on when they can reopen – and what restrictions might be in place when they do.
It has been a feature of lockdown – the increasingly wild state of people's hair, as some have embraced their new look while other have attempted to take matters into their own hands – some more successfully than others.
One thing is for certain, a visit to the hairdressers will definitely be different for people when they do open.
Gone will be the traditional waiting area, the magazines, the chit-chat with fellow customers, and complimentary drink while you wait your turn. Instead clients will be asked to wait in the car until their appointment starts, to wear face masks, and to leave coats and bags in the car.
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They are all just part of the measures Helen and her staff are preparing so that they and their customers can get their hair cut in safety.
Helen, 43, said: "For me it is like doing a brand new salon.
While waiting to hear yesterday's official guidelines on what they can do, Helen and her team of nine have been busy making their own plans, going into incredible detail as they prepare for when they can welcome back clients.
The measures include making extra space in the salon, all staff working in full PPE, disinfecting equipment after each haircut, a one-way system with separate entrances and exits, and all windows open.
The salon is also planning to hold two 'vulnerable sessions a week' and will be using its barn conversion setting to cut hair in the garden in a gazebo.
Nail and eyelash treatments are also being sacrificed due to safety reasons, and also to provide more space for actual haircutting.
Helen said: "We are going to do hair in the garden, we have got a massive garden where no one can see over the hedges. We joked about it before lockdown and people thought I was crazy but I have had people contact me and say 'What about the garden?', so we are going to set up a gazebo out there."
With a waiting list of more than 250 and requests from people who have never been clients at the salon, the plans, which Helen has explained on social media with videos she said were "embarrassing", but "important so people understand", have certainly made an impression.
She said: "I had two clients contact me who are not clients and they said they know they will be at the bottom of the list, but because of what we are putting in place they want to join us. That makes me think that maybe it is worth it."
Helen said she had provided some advice for people online, but that the experience of the past few months has left many people saying they won't be taking their hairdresser for granted when they do reopen.
She said: "I have had people ask for advice on how to colour their hair, how to layer their hair. If it was that easy everyone would be doing it!
"I have advised people on a fringe trim but you cannot just do a perfect hair cut; we have trained for years to learn.
"Quite a few people have said they won't be taking their hairdresser for granted from now on!"