• Courtney Jette

Creations

April, 2020

You step into Creations Salon and you're transported back to when you would go into a hair salon with your mom and siblings. Like it was that day you all took your turn in the chair. Just as you'd remembered it...dependable. The line of stylists focused on their current client, always the same hairdresser that you knew would deliver the same cut you were not only expecting, but would hate anything else. I think that's why it's so hard for people to switch hairdressers. And that's why, when you walk in here, it's safe, dependable, reliable and peacefully consistent. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the stylists behind these chairs can edge up your style or change your whole look. With years of experience behind their scissors, I don't think you could consider your next hair mistake through these doors. Owner and stylist, Daya, has been running Creations for 12 years.

And she's been snipping ends since long before that. Now, looking to retire in under 5 years, this shutdown is coming at an awkward time. Daya and Mark sat down with me in their empty salon a couple of weeks ago. Diving right in, (I didn't even need my lead-in questions) they cut right to the chase. And they didn't even need scissors (after all, they are pros).

Mark

"We've been successful for 12 years, but that doesn't mean we have a ton of zeros in the bank. The thing is, if our girls can't work, they have no income 'cause they don't qualify for unemployment and they don't qualify for assistance."

Daya

"At the beginning, the Governor said we would qualify for unemployment. But, I've had two of my gals, and another I know, apply for it, but because we're self-employed, we were denied."

They have since been denied several times.

"It’s been a full time job trying to figure out how to navigate through all this red tape."

M: "They can't pay us, which means we can't pay our landlords. We've asked the owners of our building what's the plan moving forward. Basically they say, 'We're not sure, but we still have bills to pay.'"

"Well, every person walking the earth has bills to pay. The difference is, they will get bailed out and we, the small business owner... the backbone of America, will not."

D: "We've never been late on a payment; they know this. And there will be no leniency on rent?? The banks; they know they are going to get a stipend, and all the loans they're making are going to get their money. They are always going to get their money, or write it off. So they're going to get their money either way."

M: "Home lenders are putting off mortgages for up to six months. If they can do that for the homeowners, why can't the banks do that for businesses. Now, it's being put on the back end, so it won't be free, but no one's asking for it for free."

Just makes you wonder, if the people demand payment on rent, when this is all over, who will they have to rent from them?

It's hard to see a couple who has been good to the Tri-Cities community, and one of the first salons in their area, for 12 years, get barraged, find alternative options for payment, and yet be shoved under the rug, and have nothing they can do about it. It makes me embarrassed to be human. Well, your voice is not completely washed out. I hear you. And others are having the same happen to them. If we all talk loud enough, we can't be drowned out. One voice alone becomes tired; many small voices together are a choir. Look to your community. Be proud of it.

I only had the pleasure to visit with the owners. I didn't get to meet the stylists that, on a usual day, are spinning styles at the chairs all day long. Creations has over 7 chairs, and 3 private stations.

They are someone's mom, or partner, who is now without a steady stream of income. Daya says they will not be charging their stylists rent for their stations. For some of the Creations' stylists, this is their only source of income, and a few are single mothers. Expressing concern over their situation, Daya said,

"They're not going down with the shop. I asked them to not pay. 'Worry about your families, I said, and we will worry about us'. If we go down, we go down. It's our business. Why would we take them down with us?"

Salons have an interesting setup because the stylist behind those chairs are independent contractors. They're not employees. What does that mean? It means that if they quit a job, they cannot collect unemployment or assistance from Washington state. But, they did not quit their jobs, they were forced to close. Now they are being denied assistance or unemployment even though they were FORCED to shut down operations.

"No one at my shop needed the money from unemployment before this all happened." "I've been looking forward to retirement and to slow down, and be a friend again, and to be your stylist buddy. This makes it so much harder. And enough of this social media! I don't want to post on it all the darn time, you know? I find myself saying, 'Hey, come get some retail for 10% off', so I can stay alive."

Having to post on social media to stay relevant is a frustration for a business that started before social media was a marketing tool. They made it, and were established without it. And now, in order to stay in the pack, they are forced to constantly be on media platforms creating 'content' and trying to sell in peoples' faces. Which is not how they built their business or want to do business. I also find myself super annoyed at social media, and often wish we could revert. So, to hear it come from someone much older than I, is sad, because I know how frustrating and weird that probably is.

That day I had already visited 4 businesses. I was secretly a little worn out, and as I was getting ready to go, Daya asked me if I needed any shampoo. (Maybe she could tell my hair was in desperate need of help, all hidden away in the bun.) Or maybe she gets it. I don't think anyone's asked me such a random question, and never has the offer of shampoo relieved me so much. All the sudden, I wasn't tired. I wasn't wondering what I had gotten myself into. I realized it was community, giving and caring. Going into this whole thing, I did it without any expectations. And, I still have none. But that bottle of shampoo, and the other products she wouldn't let me leave without, made me realize there are people supporting me right now, too. Daya, my dehydrated curls thank you. Such a simple gesture made me feel like a kid who was back in the salon getting taken care of. And that's obviously what happens when you schedule at Creations. There's a reason they've been there 12 years. And that she is such a fighter of a business woman. You don't become dependable or successful overnight. This couple does this because it's what they love doing. Visiting them for your next appointment is a major hairdoo.

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