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Quarantine Chronicles: August David Alderman
AUGUST DAVID ALDERMAN is the owner of the Color Geek hair salon on Wilmington Island. Included in Gov. Kemp’s first round of businesses permitted to open last week, August and his team decided not to reopen until everyone felt safe.

This is his Quarantine Chronicle.

What was your initial reaction to the reopening order last Monday?

To even go back a little further, I closed the salon before they asked us to close because I thought it was the safe thing to do. March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, was the last day our salon was open, and we decided to close starting on the 18th.

It seemed like things were going well with people backing off and social distancing and these businesses being closed, and then it just felt wrong. It didn’t feel right when they said, “Go back in a few days.”

I don’t have a large salon; I have three hair stylists and one receptionist, and we immediately all spoke and felt that it was not right to go back. We made that announcement to our clients through Instagram and Facebook, and everyone was incredibly supportive. We had lots of response and likes and messages and clients telling us, “Don’t reopen until you feel safe.” The thing I heard the most was, “Thank you.”

Have you gotten anything from unemployment?

I looked into the [PPP] loan, and it closed before we could apply for it. I’ve since heard that it’s reopened and I am going to look into it.

My stylists are 1099, they’re independent contractors, and they have been getting some unemployment. My receptionist has been absolutely getting unemployment because her unemployment is a lot easier to get because of the way she’s paid. But I have not gotten a loan. Personally, I have not gotten a stimulus check or anything like that.

When we first closed, for about a week before we knew how long this was going to go—because honestly, I didn’t really think this far into the future, I thought we would be back in a few weeks—I did start selling gift cards. I felt it was the right thing to do since I had closed the salon so suddenly. I did give 100% of those sales to my stylists to try to help them out, and it was really great. But then we stopped doing that when they started applying for unemployment, so everything would be on board for them to get their unemployment.

It’s great to hear your 1099s are receiving unemployment.

Yeah, it was a little back and forth. I know we got mixed messages, and they got different amounts at different times.

With all that in mind, what’s your priority in making the decision to reopen?

Your first gut instinct is that it’s not difficult: you know what the right decision is, and that’s the way it felt from the very beginning to go ahead and close. That was the feeling in my heart.

But then, we are super passionate about what we do. We’re called The Color Geek and we’re geeks because we love what we do so much; we’re obsessed with it. So it definitely is sad for us, and we miss our clients. We do a creative job, and that kind of feeds your spirit. I think that all my stylists are very artistic and creative, and I think they’re missing that a lot right now.

Early into this time, there were a few days where I definitely felt lost because I’ve always been a person that’s been able to get stuff don since I’ve had my business and make stuff happen for people. I felt like I was powerless and that was gone. It’s emotional for me, too.

I know it feels that way for a lot of people, and there are some opportunities for people to work from home, but there’s definitely not a way to someone’s hair from a ways away.

I know this has been a thing: has anyone asked you to make a home visit and cut their hair?

I had a few requests, but most of my clients know me pretty well and they knew I wouldn’t really go for it. People have just asked me what [they] could do in the meantime, and I did give them my best advice and I said, “Of course I will not be upset with you if you do something at home. That’s fine; we’ll take care of it.”

My mother has had lung issues, so I definitely have been super cautious about not exposing ourselves to anything unnecessary to look out for her.

Do you have an opening date in mind?

We had a Zoom meeting and we are looking towards mid to late May. I have a lot of stuff on order; we have four new pages of guidelines from the state board of cosmetology for Georgia. This is way more extensive and specific for germs, viruses, etc.

We have smocks on order that are disposable to use after each client. We talked about face shields and masks. I also ordered a special sign that’s going to be outside our salon in the front door so every client knows what the new protocol is before they come into the salon, and they know it’s not negotiable. It’s the way the salon is going to be run.

There’s a lot of thought that goes into it, but we are following, like our mayor says, “Follow the science, keep the faith.” I think that’s the simplest statement, but it really does mean a lot and it makes a lot of sense.

We are trying to be positive, but we are going to take every precaution, and we are not going to sacrifice safety for a speedy reopening.