Small Business, Big Problems: A Hairdresser’s Reaction to COVID-19
by Erin Durbin
I own a small business as a cosmetologist. I work all by myself in a small room at Salon Lofts in Liberty Township. I started vocational school as a hairdresser in 1993 during my junior year of high school. I had zero plans for my future and had no idea what I wanted to do. When my school counselor gave me the option of becoming a hairdresser, it felt like cheating. I couldn’t believe I could make a living out of spending time with friends and making them beautiful. I won’t say it’s easy work, and the years of spending long hours on my feet have taken its toll on my body—but I can honestly say I would do it all over again.
An Unexpected Break
When the stay-at-home order was issued this March and I was told work would have to be finished by the end of the day, I had mixed emotions. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I needed a break from work and a couple of weeks off was something that we could most likely handle. But after May 1 came and went, I started to feel very depressed. As a hairdresser, I am quite the extrovert. I feel energized when I spend time with people. Many of my clients are friends and some feel just like family. I missed my family, my friends, my clients, and my church family. I also wasn’t contributing to paying our family’s bills—and that was worrisome.
I had heard some horror stories of clients trying at-home color and turning their hair orange in the process. They wanted their hairdressers’ help to fix it but our hands were tied. As I thought about the work that was piling up on me, anxiety took over . . .
What if I had all these people to take care of and I had to fix these at-home dye jobs?
What if people got frustrated while waiting for me then went to someone else and I lost a client because I couldn’t schedule them in in a timely manner?
Being a hairdresser has always meant “job security” for me, and for the first time ever I didn’t have a job. In fact, it would have been irresponsible to do my job.
On top of this job anxiety, I still had two boys at home doing remote learning. But God’s timing is perfect, and he gives us gifts in the middle of chaos. It turns out I really enjoyed being the teacher. It gave me a chance to see what kind of learners my boys are and to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We learned how to talk to each other because we had to. I found out what deep thinkers my children are. They asked me things like, “Mom? Do you think this is all happening because there are too many people on the earth?” and “Mom? Do you think that guy feels bad that he didn’t wash that bat before he ate it?” When you work a full-time job, there is so much you miss with your kids.
Another gift came from some friends of ours from church. They were so kind and sent me a check in the mail with the message, “We were thinking of you and since we had both missed haircuts we wanted to help you out.” As I looked at that check I realized that God has had our back through this whole thing. His plan has been so intricate and detailed way before this pandemic started.
One last gift was something God had planned for us way in advance. Ten years ago after attending services at Christ’s Church in Mason, my husband and I made the choice to attend a Financial Peace University session from Dave Ramsey on Sundays before church. It was a real eye-opener for us. We thought we were achieving financial success but quickly learned we owed more money than we had assets. We would have drowned if we hadn’t taken that class before all this. We had a fully-funded emergency reserve and this was definitely an emergency. Directly before the pandemic hit, my husband took a new job as an elevator mechanic working as an apprentice for Thyssenkrupp. It turned out he was deemed an “essential” employee. He would have probably been furloughed at his old job in the boating industry. Additionally, we had recently paid our car off and that freed up a chunk of change.
Fear and anxiety does not come from God. It eats away at our faith and opens the door for Satan to make his mess. Isaiah 41:13, 14 promises, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid . . . for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (NIV).
God is good and he is good all the time. I am now back to my job, and it is business as usual except for the wearing of masks and longer hours. I am only allowed to service one client at a time. It’s not so bad. I am given the opportunity to listen, love, laugh, and even cry with the people who bring me my livelihood. It’s good to be back and I have learned to love that time at home with my little family a little bit more.
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid” (GNT).
Erin Durbin has been a member of Christ’s Church in Mason for over ten years. Her clients are much more to her than just a job and she considers her chair her ministry.