Interview with Stephanie DeLozier owner of Salon Avanti in West Reading, PA
I have known Stephanie since kindergarten. While many school changes have pulled us apart over the years, we always found ways to end up back together. Most recently, I returned from living in NYC and needed a new hair stylist. To my surprise my old kindergarten friend now owns her own hair salon.
However, that ownership has now left her with a lot of uncertainties during the time of COVID-19. Everyday has left her with a different emotion: ranging from optimist to “hot mess.” As salons have been deemed “non-essential,” she and all of her employees have had to file for unemployment. As the owner, she is looking into EIDL and PPP options, however she is not exactly sure what she will get and how to use it properly. Since this information is constantly changing, one is unsure of what to expect once the plans are fully rolled out and being utilized. Meanwhile loans and credit card companies are not enforcing minimum payments, but some are still holding members responsible for the interest rates.
So in order to keep the salon afloat, Stephanie has been thinking outside the box and getting creative in ways to make some money, but more importantly help her clients and colleagues. One of the ways she is managing to do this is by creating color packs that she mixes herself and leaves in a sanitized cooler for her clients to pick up. She is taking appropriate cautionary measures to ensure that this process does ensue passing along COVID-19. And since her brother and sister-in-law are both physicians in New York City, she has a lot of information on what proper precautions are. In fact, when her brother feels the family is not being precautions enough he has even uttered the words, “You might as well just fill out your death wishes.” With him on the front lines, he is taking measure so seriously and making sure his family is too. Yet, her goal continues to be helping people feel good about themselves through this time. She has also created a Smile Card program where customers can “pre-tip” their stylist and leave them nice messages to spread cheer and help her employees survive without their normal income.
Stephanie has always been selfless, looking for ways to help those around her, She amazes me every time I hear of something new that she has done or thought of, and this pandemic is no different. She continues to strive to do good and bring joy to her community in whatever way she can. So what are her big takeaways from this experience?
What do you feel you have lost from COVID-19?
SD: “Interactions with clients, being able to keep up with their lives. It’s like we know them so well and cannot imagine not seeing them. We want them to know we are still thinking about them and hope they are thinking about us. It’s why I am doing the smile card. That way people can send cards to each other letting one another know they are thinking of them.”
What do you feel you have gained from COVID-19?
SD: “I thought I multitasked before, but now I am multitasking more than ever. I have been connecting with other salons who have reached out to see how I am doing things to keep the salon afloat. I also have more time to do things that I haven’t had time for before.”
What do you feel you have learned through all of this?
SD: “How to think outside of the box at all times. I have been watching lots of webinars from my product companies to see what they recommend and what they are doing. When filling out the unemployment paperwork and seeing what I would get back, I realized I haven’t been paying myself enough. instead I was putting all of it back into the business. So from now on I will be paying myself more. Also I will be adding lost wages clause to my insurance contract.”
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselor