When the COVID-19 restrictions closed schools and salons, some students at Summit Salon were just a hair short of graduating the cosmetology school.
Now, with salons allowed to reopen last week per Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s orders, students jumped back behind the salon chairs to finish their requirements. With strict safety and sanitation protocols in place, the salon is encouraging clients to come in for services, especially shaves, to allow students to finish their requirements not too far behind schedule.
“They haven’t changed the state board requirements to graduate, so they have a lot of shaves they have to do. They have a lot of haircuts, perms. The state has not said, ‘Oh, you don’t have to do 450 of these.’ You still have to do them, and we still have the same timeframe to do it all. Now we have to learn how to do it in this new environment,” said Susan Harding, director of Summit Salon.
Stepping into Summit Salon post-COVID restrictions, it was clear it was a new environment. Large signs on the exterior doors directed clients to call the salon and wait outside or in their cars for their stylists to get them and bring them back to their booth.
Inside, every other booth was empty as only half of the students could work at a time, and all stylists and clients were wearing masks. Three attendants were hired to focus solely on sanitation throughout the day, and hours were extended in order to spread clients out and give all students opportunities to work.
“We’ve extended hours and opened Sundays for students to get extra hours for things they missed throughout this process, so we’re just trying to help them out so they’re not hindered. We’re all hindered but to try to take a little bit of the burden off of them so they can still graduate in a reasonable timeframe,” said Harding.
Ahead of opening, staff called regular clients to reschedule them, and Harding said some passed as they still were hesitant to venture out. However, just about as many were eager to get back into the salon, she said.
Peggy Turner was one of those clients. She was in the salon chair last Tuesday, the first day the salon opened, to have her roots touched up. She joked with the staff and said she slept outside the night before to ensure she didn’t miss her appointment.
“My gray kept coming out more and more and more. I’ve seen more of my gray than I have in my lifetime,” she said, laughing.
With the precautions the salon was taking, Turner said she was comfortable returning.
“I’ve been in stores watching people not have masks, and I think [Summit Salon] has done a great job requiring masks and having the social distancing, washing everything down. I think it’s OK,” she said.
Student Electra McClaine also was happy to be back in the salon, working on her clients. McClaine finished the school’s cosmetology program in January and decided to continue with the barbering program in February. Her class was working through theory and just starting to get out on the floor when the shutdown hit.
For two weeks, there were no classes until a distance learning program was put together and approved. With the distance learning in place, students could continue to log hours and continue the program through the shutdown, though there was no way for students to work hands-on with clients.
Without the shutdown, McClaine would have graduated last week. Now, she’s 70 hours away from graduation and has to complete a number of haircuts, conditioning treatments, and face shaves still to hit her requirements.
Despite the new environment in salons, McClaine said it hasn’t impacted her desire to be a stylist. Following graduation, she has a job lined up at a salon in Fishers.
“We just have to make sure that we implement all of the cleaning procedures, going a little above and beyond what we usually do,” she said. “I think it will keep everything at bay.”
For barbering student Vic Madrigal, the shutdown was another setback. He stared the program in February 2019 and after suffering a broken wrist from falling from a horse last summer, he was out for two months. With the shutdown putting him back two more months, Madrigal said it has been frustrating.
“I was like, ‘Man, I’m never going to graduate.’ It’s frustrating, but I try not to think about it because, mentally, it kind of messed with you like, ‘I’m never going to finish,’” he said. “I’m trying to keep the best positive mindset I can and say, ‘You know what, I’ve got 300 hours left.’ I’ll be out of here by July, and after that, I’ll just kind of look back and say, ‘That was a crazy time.’”
When the shutdown happened, Madrigal was at 1,200 of the 1,500 hours needed to graduate. At 1,200 hours, students are allowed to take the state board exams – but Madrigal couldn’t even do that, as testing centers also closed.
Now that he’s back behind the chair, he’s excited to log his remaining hours, take the exams, and finish his cuts.
Harding encouraged the community to visit the salon to help the students get back on track.
“We literally have about five or six barbers that are within a couple of weeks of graduating, and they need to do like 20 or 30 shaves,” said Harding. “We definitely could reach out to the community and say, ‘Hey, come help them out. They need shaves.’ We’re just trying to find people to get them in. Everybody needs a haircut. Everybody needs that, but not everybody goes out and does straight razor shaves. So if people could not shave at home in the morning and come in and get a nice facial treatment and a shave, that would be wonderful.”
To make an appointment, call Summit Salon at 765-454-9840 ext. 1. The salon is located at 1012 S. Reed Road.