Author’s note: This is not MY personal story, per se, (despite the “my pandemic business story” headline), but a story told by our readers, week by week. Today’s is shared by Megan.
You might have heard that owning a business these days can be a real challenge, in this age of coronavirus. But how? In what ways? We’re going to tell you. To contribute your own experience, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article and tap the link.
When coronavirus first arrived in the U.S., and state-mandated shutdowns started going into place, many business owners didn’t know what to expect or what might come next.
“It felt hard and scary,” said Megan Wilson, an esthetician who owns a small skincare studio in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “We didn’t know how long it would last. We weren’t sure if we’d qualify for PPP loans.”
Her business, Skin To Soul Wellness, had been doing really well earlier in the year. In fact, for the almost seven years that Wilson has run the studio, her sales and clientele have been progressively increasing.
And now, this: COVID-19.
We still don’t know when life, as we used to know it, will return -- if it ever returns in all the same ways.
Back in February and March, right when the pandemic dynamics started shifting, Wilson just had one employee at the time.
They shut their doors when they had to, and then waited and waited.
Once Wilson was finally permitted to reopen, she decided to pause a few more weeks, to make sure she was truly doing everything in her power to prevent the spread and ensure operations were as sanitary as possible. She made some adjustments, to things like how they would schedule clients. She felt good about that.
Then her employee said she didn’t feel comfortable returning to work.
Wilson understood. But that also means she’s now running the entire show.
She’s able to do so partly because her clientele has decreased -- by a lot.
In some ways, Wilson said, she gets it. It’s not surprising to her.
“I do know for a lot of people, (facials and skincare services) are a luxury,” she said. “So financially, some people might have been impacted due to a loss of a job or cut-back hours.”
The truth of the matter is, financially, Wilson is experiencing some of those effects, too.
“I don’t know if there’s a fear when it comes to coming back in and having these services,” Wilson said. “But going into fall and facing a possible resurgence (of COVID-19), I’m feeling it, just within the past month or so especially.”
She’s not sure what the future has in store for her business.
But Wilson wants people to know, she’s doing everything she possibly can to make this a clean and safe experience for all.
Wilson has a friend who operates another business, a waxing spa called Bare Philosophy, in the same suite. The spa is technically under the same roof as Skin To Soul Wellness, so in an effort to avoid having a lot of people come in all at once, the business owners have been staggering appointments. Wilson is also conducting temperature checks, purifying the air, having people wait in their cars until she’s ready for them, and, as mentioned, increasing time between clients to make sure everything is sanitized thoroughly and properly.
The extra precautions come second nature, considering her background.
“Going to school, sanitation was drilled into our heads,” Wilson said with a laugh.
And taking some time between her clients is no problem. She’s cleaning everywhere that could have possibly been touched, and even asks her clients to put their belongings in a bin when they come into the studio, in an effort to avoid cross-contamination.
Wilson wears a K-N95 face mask with a face shield, and feels she’s being as safe as she can, given the circumstances.
As for whether Wilson feels nervous about the future? “Absolutely," she said. On top of everything, Wilson is a single mom, which sometimes adds to the stress. Although her daughter is 21, so, technically an adult, her boys are 11 and 13 -- and they’re in the midst of virtual schooling. They’re self-sufficient, Wilson said, but they still need a parent around, keeping them on task, engaged with their classes and off their phones.
Wilson is trying to stay positive and upbeat as much as she can.
“But this is (my) livelihood. … I’m worried about the fact that my business may not make it,” Wilson said. “I’ve seen a lot of other businesses in the area close because of COVID. It’s definitely a fear that I have, because I’ve been doing this line of work for over 20 years. I don’t know what I’m going to do if this doesn’t work out.”
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