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Haircuts On Demand: The Life Of Barbers During The Pandemic

They continue offering their services and need the loyalty of their customers.

Despite losing their formal source of income, many barbers and stylists have witnessed their customer’s loyalty, allowing them to earn money while working on their own.

“The pandemic made me lost my job,” said Xavier Díaz, a 21-year-old Mexican barber who now provides on-demand service in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. “I used to work at a barbershop inside a shopping mall, and when the government forced isolation measures, the barbershop let us go.”

However, hope is not lost for such barbers. While some people have remained inside their homes and only go out when necessary, others have searched for new ways to introduce themselves to new clients.

For these entrepreneurs, presentation and personal hygiene are of the utmost importance. Although many men continue to trust their barbers, many establishments have been forced to lay off their employees or even close due to health regulations.

The situation has been dire for workers whose income depends on the number of clients they get.

“We earned money through the number of clients we received,” said Díaz. “As no clients arrived, the barbershop was forced to close, and we were left without a job.”

Many hair salons began to safely open their doors, yet customers and income flow have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Xavier Díaz, a 21-year-old Mexican barber, now provides his house-to-house service in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. (Christian Valera Rebolledo / Café Words)

Moreover, due to social distancing, a barber’s work is greatly affected. They must be physically close to their clients’ hair or beards to perform correctly.

With the new health measures in place, businesses can only operate at 50 percent capacity if they can ensure the regulated distance.

Struggling with unemployment: Work alternatives for barbers and stylists

“At first, I did not know what I was going to do, how to move forward with my job loss,” said Díaz. “Fortunately, I talked to some of my friends who recommended me to become a barber at home, receiving clients on-demand only. Moreover, another friend advised me that I could offer my services door-to-door, and that is how I make a living.”

Barbers have to ensure their service’s reliability by disinfecting their workspace and ensuring their clients’ cleanliness. Furthermore, they must carry face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer at all times.

In hair salons, employees must wash the equipment between clients to avoid being penalized. Moreover, they must work with as little face-to-face conversation as possible. Any communication about the hair’s cut or color should be done through a mirror, maintaining as much distance as possible.

Barbers and stylists who now work at home must respect the rules and think about the safety of customers who seek them out.

“Although there are no authorities around me to regulate my workspace as they could in a barbershop, I do take great care to maintain all health measures,” said Díaz. “My family and my safety must come first, but I have to also care for the safety of my clients.”

Their job is now two-fold with fewer clients. However, these workers are oversaturated with appointments and without space or time to accommodate them.

Despite the pandemic, many people need the services of a stylist or barber. (Mostafa Meraji / Unsplash)

Despite the pandemic, some customers cannot do without the service.

David López, a law graduate from the Universidad Veracruzana, said that a barber’s job could not be stopped. A lawyer’s work goes hand-in-hand with the presentation, and Díaz was his salvation.

“When I found Xavier, I was able to continue taking care of my appearance because, although agencies stopped their work, clients kept needing my services, so maintaining my good appearance was necessary,” said López.

It remains to be seen if some stylists and barbers will resume working at barbershops and salons after the pandemic subsides or if the new model marks the profession’s future.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Carlin Becker)