BEAUTY salons have slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and MPs for appearing to laugh at the industry.
When William Wragg, Tory MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, asked in the Commons last week when the sector could reopen, he joked that neither he nor the PM were likely to visit a beauty salon any time soon.
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It prompted a smirk from the PM and laughter from MPs but many salons feel this makes a mockery of their work at a time when many face ruin.
Here, the founder of the UK’s leading manicure brand, Nails Inc, calls on the Government to save the multi-billion-pound beauty industry from collapse . . .
PUBS are full of people enjoying a much-needed pint after months of lockdown — while boarded-up nail salons line the nation’s high streets.
As the country finally gets back on its feet, I am delighted footie fans can once again get their fix now the beautiful game is back on the telly.
Barbers and hairdressers have also reopened but getting your nails done is still a no-no — and salons have been given no idea of when they can open.
That doesn’t make sense. A staggered opening of the high street makes sense.
If we are to open hair salons first then issue beauty salons with an opening date.
The UK beauty industry contributes £28.4billion a year to the UK economy, compared with the car industry’s £18.6billion. But this economic powerhouse is on the brink of being decimated.
While the PM has acknowledged beauticians “feel a sense of unfairness when they look at hairdressers reopening”, he has insisted nail bars, beauty salons and spas must stay closed until “they can operate in a Covid-secure way”.
But the beauty industry is one of the safest.
Even before Covid-19, many nail technicians would have been wearing masks and gloves, while their equipment is always sterilised.
Customers are encouraged to wash hands before their treatment and are supplied with hand sanitiser.
It is an industry that is already PPE-trained.
But compare this with the food industry — it’s fair to say this may be the first time some food servers in restaurants, bars and pubs will have had to wear a mask and gloves.
Yet our industry is used to adhering to strict health-and-safety guidelines, every single day. So we would seem to be in a prime position to safely reopen.
Salons can also do a manicure through an acrylic screen, like in a bank.
The industry is often overlooked and can be branded as a fluffy, pretty environment. But the reality is that it is a multi-billion-pound industry
I was 24 years old when my first nail bar opened in 1999, after I spotted a gap in the market on work trips to New York as a magazine fashion editor.
We started out as a small business and have built up over the years. We now have 12 bars, in department stores across the country.
Despite these all having been forced to close since lockdown, we are in a fortunate position because we are a product-based business and continue to trade.
Since salons shut, sales of our nail polishes and accessories have significantly increased.
It’s those one-shop nail salons that have been hardest hit. Many cannot afford to invest in products to sell.
Some may have invested in PPE and screens, presuming they would be reopening with hair salons, and this on top of zero revenue is a real challenge.
That is why I am one of the 190 beauty, wellness and aesthetic brands to sign an open letter to Boris Johnson calling on him to give a detailed plan on how salons can reopen.
The letter, submitted this week by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, points out that “thousands and thousands of people and businesses face financial ruin”, and that micro-businesses provide an essential economic boost to high streets up and down the country.
The industry is often overlooked and can be branded as a fluffy, pretty environment. But the reality is that it is a multi-billion-pound industry.
One of the reasons it is so successful is because when people feel they look good, they feel better. And I think we all deserve to feel better after months of turmoil.
You can now go to a restaurant to meet friends or get your hair done to cheer yourself up. So why can’t you get a SAFE manicure.
I understand that there are a lot more important things happening in the world, but the positive impact that getting your nails done can have on your mental health shouldn’t be underestimated.
Not everything can open at the same time, I understand that. But what the beauty industry is so up in arms about is that there is no clear indication of when salons can reopen.
It would be ridiculous to make an announcement on a Friday and expect salons to reopen on the Monday.
They need time to order equipment such as the acrylic screens, which are now in short supply.
But most salons have had zero revenue for the past few months so cannot be expected to pay for equipment in advance when they don’t know when they will be back in business.
While other non-essential industries have reopened, the beauty sector has been left in limbo. The 370,000 people it employs remain without work.
The majority of these people are women, who often balance working with caring for children or studying — because the sector has always offered a flexible working environment.
This is an industry that is enjoyed by, and benefits, many. Yet it is one that has been overlooked.
I can just imagine the conversation that may have occurred in a Government meeting: “Oh, nail bars, what’s that? We don’t want to talk about that.”
Many in that room will never have been to a nail salon. So let’s educate them — just highlighting the revenues beauty services bring in would change their minds.
Perhaps they don’t know the industry is a serious economic player that employs thousands, or that it is a safe work environment.
We are asking the Government to look at this evidence and think again.
The beauty industry isn’t asking for special treatment. It wants to be taken seriously and get back to business.
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