Lockdown: Guwahati Beauty Parlours in a Huge Quandary
With women everywhere cribbing about their eyebrows falling out of shape, split ends in their hair and several other problems that only their particular favourite parlour lady can solve, that beauty parlours in Guwahati continue to stay out of bounds for customers has become a major problem.
A grooming space, a place to get pampered or just a place to relax while eavesdropping on the latest gossip in town, women miss all the ‘self-care’ sessions. There’s nothing that a good haircut, perfectly arched eyebrows or the freshly manicured nails can’t cure.
Although a trip to the parlour cannot help one get through the entire COVID situation, it sure can prevent the nation’s 5 billion dollar industry from completely bailing out.
On one hand, the internet is flooding with videos on ‘how to cut your own hair at home’ and on the other there are people who would want their hair to be trimmed by experts only. Whatever may be the case, COVID-19 and the lockdown to curb its spread, has taken a toll on the beauty parlour business across the city.
Threading, waxing, facial cleansing, a self haircut or any other grooming procedure is way beyond the skill sets most people possess. The lockdown has forced people to either do all this by themselves, stay messy, or risk having a beautician walk right into their homes and provide the service to them, at the cost of getting affected by the virus. The fear has grown among women especially after the barber from Kumarpara tested positive for the virus at Fancy Bazar.
Despite the businesses being impacted, beauty parlour owners still have to pay rent for the property where their shops are located. They also have to pay salaries to the employees who work in their parlour and some parlours are facing an additional loss as they are unable to sell the beauty products that they had invested in as extension of their business.
“I am currently unable to pay the staff employed in my parlour. We usually pay them out of the money we make throughout the month but now everything is shut. Moreover, my husband just went through a heart surgery and I am facing a financial crunch,” said Indrani who runs her own beauty parlour in Kumarpara area of the city. “My girls (staff) have also understood my problems during this period and they know that their ‘Madam’ is going through a tough time. I do not have money to pay them right now, but I will, once my parlour opens and the situation normalizes,” she added.
Another beauty parlour owner, Jula Baruah who owns a beauty parlour called City Lady on RG Baruah Road said, “From the 19th of March my parlour has been shut and it’s very very difficult right now since the rent is due and even if I don’t give my staff full pay, I have to give them something to run their own households also.” For the first month of the lockdown, Baruah said that she had paid them the full salary but after that it has become tough for her to make payments. “I’m still managing to pay them whatever is in my capacity, because I have to as it is my responsibility,” Baruah added. On being asked whether her beauty parlour is providing services to customers at home, she denied doing so.
The lockdown has hit not just the beauty parlours in Guwahati, but also big chains across the country with some major hair and beauty chains contemplating on borrowing crores of rupees to stay in business.
COVID-19 has struck a huge blow to the income of beauticians and beauty parlour owners. In a post pandemic world, beauty parlours will be expected to maintain a high level of hygiene as they fall in a high-touch and contact industry.
Even if these businesses find a way to operate safely, they will have a hard time returning to normalcy due to their nature, which is such, that beauticians and hair stylists ought to be in close proximity with people.