When I committed to having monthly newsletters, I had a plan. There would be hair tips! Notes from other stylists! Tons of helpful CONTENT! I still want to do that, but this month it feels kind of false.
So many people, including myself, are struggling right now, but it's a different kind of struggle. During 2020, we were so overwhelmed, EVERYTHING was so different, we were completely distracted with trying to figure things out and just get through the days.
Then, in January, hope appeared. Vaccines! A concerted effective government roll-out to administer those vaccines! Kids are going back to school! (At least some of them, some of the time.) Oh my god it was really ending!
I was at the mental point where I was able to finally take a breath and look around, and start to even see some positive changes. I was forced to clear out so much old stuff and really start fresh, and feel hopeful about what is growing in this new space created.
But then the new reality started to sink in. It's not going to be a quick and steady progression to going back to "normal." People are getting vaccinated in record numbers, but new strains are mutating just as quickly. We're getting vaccinated, but we still have to wear masks and be paranoid. Kids are going back to school, and getting sick and spreading disease at record rates. We're slowly returning to regular routines, which includes Black men lying dead in the street and a steady drumbeat of shootings at schools and workplaces.
This is getting dark really quickly and my intention is not to be a downer, but instead a reality check. We're all living through trauma, some of us more than others, and the only way through is kindness and courage. The only way. You may feel at your wit's end, because you are. That's the reality. We are all being pushed past our limits. Our limits are way in the rearview mirror.
So what's there to do?
My main way of coping is going into perfectionist mode, trying to control and conquer what I can. Last week I sent a note to a client apologizing that her product pick-up order wasn't ready to go when she came in. (Must! Maintain! Customer! Service!) She sent back a note that stopped me in my tracks:
"No problem at all, we figured it out! After the craziness of the last year, we should all give each other a little grace, I think :-)"
It's so simple and true. Thank you, Caitlin.
We're all coping the best we can. Might as well use our limited energy to be kind to ourselves and each other, rather than propping up our outdated and useless mental constructs.
So that's why we're not having a normal newsletter this month. I wish for everyone kindness, and am amazed at our continued strength, even when it doesn't feel like we're being strong. Later we will look back and marvel at it.
Letter from the Editor:
I was talking with my good friend Jen, who does marketing for a living and is just a smart person in general, and she suggested that Lucky 13 do a regular e-mail newsletter. It's a way to connect without algorithms or evil social media intermediaries, and folks have said they've really enjoyed the notes I've sent out during all our COVID emergencies.
"Just think of it like a little magazine," Jen said. OK, done!
Little known fact: I was a writer and editor for a lesbian print mag in the 90's (holla Girlfriends), and so I'm much more motivated to sit down and write a "little magazine" than a newsletter.
So, look out for these little nuggets every month in your in-box, and let me know if there's any burning hair or salon topics you'd like to see us cover.
Lucky 13 2.0(21)
Like it did for many businesses, 2020 put Lucky 13 in a blender, chewed us up, and spit us out. We’re coming out of this experience much different than we went in. We’re smaller, and a collection of independent stylists rather than employer and employees. What does this mean for you?
Some things are the same: you can still pick any stylist you’d like, alternating between us if it’s more convenient. Our stylists are a team, have been working together for years, and help each other out. But there are some major changes:
There are less people. We have about half as many stylists as we used to, and everyone sets their own schedule, so when you come in you and your stylist may be the only ones in the shop! Most times, there are 2-4 stylists working. If we’re really hopping, there may be 5 or 6, but our stations are spaced out and we have no extra staff, so we don’t have to worry about overcrowding.
No more front desk. We now have automated call forwarding that allows you to connect directly with your stylist or their voicemail. It’s not as convenient as always having someone there to answer live, but we are transitioning into doing more text and e-mail communications so we can still be as responsive as possible. We are also able to check people out directly from links we text to your phone, which is kinda cool.
It is quieter. Not only because there are less people in the salon at a time, but because we have no more ringing phones. No matter how soothing a ringtone we picked, eventually the volume had to be turned up to be heard over hairdryers, and it just added to the overall noise level.
It is slower. Like the rest of the world in the “before times,” the salon used to be focused on maximizing productivity, seeing as many clients as possible, and squeezing people in whenever possible. It was just the way things were done. After everything came to a screeching halt, when we opened up again and added extra time between clients to fully disinfect each station, a funny thing happened: that extra breathing space was nice. There wasn’t a rush to finish one person to move right to the next. We could finish and reset. So we keep experimenting with adjusting the time of our services, because there is no need to be rushed and stressed.
There is more one-on-one focus. All of the above factors mean that each stylist can focus more completely on you while you’re here. There’s less background distraction, less time crunch, more tranquility and calm. Stylists can really focus on you and the task at hand, and the level of our work reflects this.
If you enjoyed the crazy hustle-and-bustle of our previous incarnation, you may not welcome these changes. It seems like everyone’s nerves are a bit jangled right now, so hopefully enough people will like it so we can continue. We’re still gaining our footing, working out our new style, and things will always keep evolving, but for now we’re trying to create a little peaceful oasis.
Parenting in a Pandemic
When Kathleen asked me to contribute something as a working single mom during the pandemic, I didn’t know where to start. I turned 41 the day Governor Dewine shut down the restaurants. I am approaching 42 this next week. A whole year of my children’s lives has been lived in our little house on a patch of land that I am so grateful for. I can count on one hand the times they have been inside of a store, seen their cousins, experienced life outside of our little bubble. I often wonder how they will describe this year to the younger generations that come.
For me, it’s been a roller coaster. It started off great: those first months when we were shut down were the happiest time in my life. Our small bubble, which included my partner at the time, my children’s father and our lovely neighbors with their 3 children, were all that we saw. I was home full-time, and virtual school didn't seem like it would be endless quite yet. We bought one of those out-of-ground swimming pools and lived outside as much as possible. Parks and camping saved us from feeling isolated. We had yoga outside and occasional socially distanced happy hours with friends in the yard.
The salon reopened the day after school ended last school year. I was thankful for summer vacation, and that I could focus on reopening the salon while not also be dealing with school. But it turned out that returning to a job where we had to be inside of a person’s personal space and touch them, when we were not actually supposed to even be touching door handles, pushed me and many of my coworkers over the edge. I became the person in my bubble who was most likely to bring the plague home. Some of us cried often from the fear and pressure of being in that position. As the salon manager, I found the pressure of caring for both my family and the well-being of the staff damn near debilitating. It was a fear of the unknown. There was no guidance from the government agencies, there were way too many variables. The heaviness of the BLM injustices on top of the pandemic made the world feel even heavier.
Then school started up again in August. Being a single working mom with children in school at home is easily one of the hardest experiences I have lived through. We’ve tried several different desk arrangements. There were rewards, discipline, crying, and bargaining. Meanwhile, the cold weather increased our isolation. Finally in February we found our groove, only 6 months in! Motivation for online school seems to grow more difficult each month and the kids were very happy to start attending their 2 days a week in person. On those two mornings a week when getting ready to be dropped at their school, I get to see my kids feel normal for a bit.
We have gotten through this last year by adapting every day, hoping for the best, and knowing that we just don't know anything. Without the help of those in my life I don’t know how I could have survived this time. I am lucky to have the support I have. I am lucky to have a job where I can change my work week to three long days and an evening. I'm thankful for faithful clients who will come at 7pm on a Saturday night to get their hair done. I am thankful to see other good parents who are experiencing the same struggles as we are, and talk it out. How those without this flexibility and human contact survive, is beyond me. I am thankful.
Comings and Goings
As you may know, I've had an extremely limited schedule over the last few months. Now, the case numbers are down, masks seem to be doing their job, so I feel safe coming back to work.
We've hit a really rough time right now, in the dead of winter, during the tail end (hopefully) of a pandemic. If your hair is one of the things bringing you down, help is at hand. I'd love to see you.
Like a lot of people, I've really changed my perspective during this time. When COVID began, everyone at Lucky 13 adjusted our schedule to allow extra time between clients, both so we had enough time to disinfect our stations, and to limit the number of people in the salon. I discovered I actually liked this extra bit of breathing room, and that I did better work when I wasn't so rushed and stressed. (Who knew?)
And so I have adjusted my service menu to allow extra time for my guests. All my pricing is based on time, not gender or age or anything else. When you go to online booking (link below), I have added descriptions for each service to help you pick which one is best for you. If you're not sure, please e-mail me, I'd be happy to help. And I hope you find the value in any extra time allowed for our service is well worth it.
Another new experiment is offering online booking for color services. If we've already done a consultation or a previous color service, you can book your appointment at your own convenience! We'll see how this plays out.
I feel like this last year has broken all the rules, shaken everything up, and allowed us the chance to re-evaluate our priorities and day-to-day life. I decided I'd like to take my career and services to the next level; we're all in a state of transformation so we'll see how it goes.
I can't wait to see you and hear how you've been dealing with everything! If you've been just vegetating and barely getting by, I feel that and that's OK too. Let's see what 2021 brings!
Hope to see you soon,
2020 was a year we started as innocent babes, with a tragedy such as uncontrolled pandemic not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. Now, at the beginning of this new year, I finally have the presence of mind to look around the rubble and dust of our previous existence to take stock of what’s happening.
Last year we had to restructure the entire salon from top to bottom in order to survive. We were fortunately in a good position to be able to reconfigure, because I’ve always kept Lucky 13 as debt-free, lean, and nimble as possible. (It turns out that the extreme frugality that comes from a parent who has survived war, poverty, and extreme hardship was good preparation for 2020!)
We had to take a hard look at the situation and figure out a way forward that didn’t require going into massive amounts of debt, and that gave everyone more ownership over their choice of when and how much to work. Luckily, being a sole proprietor is relatively common and feasible in our industry, especially later in stylists’ careers. And so, we metamorphosed into being a collective of independent mature artists, each in charge of our own scheduling and finances, but offering each other support at the same time.
I am so grateful for the stylists who have had faith and courage to take the plunge into this new iteration of Lucky 13. The timing was forced by circumstances, but I feel like we have the opportunity to really grow and stretch into a new phase in our careers. The stylists of Lucky 13 are an extraordinary group of talented, experienced, good-hearted people who take their jobs and safety seriously, and I am lucky to have them on board.
It’s not all a bed of roses, mainly because of the ongoing challenges of working in a public-facing profession during a pandemic. For those who have come in since we’ve switched over, you have seen how seriously we take safety, and the social distance and standards we are able to enforce in our new space. But we continue to work under a constant level of stress, where childcare and school is disrupted, everyone’s mental health is under siege, and a single lapse in caution or luck threatens us with infection. Yet throughout it all, I strongly believe we are making the best out of an incredibly difficult situation. I’m really proud of us.
While we are currently in a state of semi-dormancy, getting used to our new set-up and riding out what is hopefully the end of this storm, the seeds have been planted for very promising future growth. We each have the freedom, flexibility, and space to redefine ourselves, to make the most of this rebuilding process on the solid foundation of our last 15 years.
Wishing you health and happiness for the New Year, and if that is not yet possible: strength and survival.