Mobile beauticians are learning to survive COVID-19 by adhering to CDC guidelines, all while continuing a steady cash flow and even seeking new business ventures.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on major establishments, resulting in over 100,000 small businesses closing forever. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, took their talents to the “kitchen” by offering at-home services to their clients. Nail technicians, hairstylists, and makeup artists advertise essential services to many, especially to the Black community. Enhancements such as hair and nails are an escape for many Black people to express themselves. Throughout the last year, Black pop culture couldn’t resist the latest trends of soft locs, wispy minks, ombre “grabbers”, and cut creases. With that in mind, mobile beauticians COVID-proofed their homes and chased a bag.
“I made sure I had a nice soapy concoction, [I had] bleach, water, detergent tablets” Brittnai “Juvie” Gary, a 24-year-old nail technician from Miami, Fla. said, “if you didn’t have a mask you couldn’t come.”
Juvie has been a nail technician for over 5 years. Her business is called @mynailsgobang on Instagram. It started through the inspiration of her past nail technician. Soon, the then eager high school student’s hobby became a side hustle. Juvie pursued her cosmetology license at North Florida Cosmetology Institute, Inc.
Juvie also has a 4-year-old son which, in the beginning, which forced her to put nails on the back burner and work as a full-time supervisor at Starbucks. She juggled serving as a barista on the weekday, a nail tech on weekends, all while being an around-the-clock mother. After a year of this, Juvie had to decide between working a steady income for a company or taking a chance as a self-employed business owner. She chose to be her boss.
“My goal was to make 5k a month. I mapped out me doing 25 people a week, on average the minimum at 55 dollars.” the nail technician said.
COVID-19 and Business
Juvie has alternated between salon employment and mobile employment over the years. She says the expenses on booth rent and other shop needs to sway her into staying home-based for a while. Before COVID-19, Juvie was already doing nails from her apartment. At the beginning of the pandemic, Juvie dropped everything and quarantined for two weeks. While in quarantine she noticed a higher demand for her services.
“Once I seen the traffic, I couldn’t resist. So my third week I’m like ‘I’m back’.”Juvie
The business owner COVID- proofed her apartment and opened her bookings with a few restrictions. Juvie requires everyone to wear a mask and encourages clients to refrain from booking if they are experiencing symptoms. Although most abide by her rules, a few clients have put her at risk. One of which, confided in Juvie by confessing her boyfriend tested positive for the coronavirus which put the nail tech in an uncomfortable situation. Consequently, Juvie only sees a limited amount of people a day to reduce contact.
The cosmetologist feels she is blessed to have the opportunity to do nails during this time because the demand for them is high and the profit is great. Besides, she’s also in the works of launching a new business Glitterhouse LLC. In April, Juvie applied for the Small Business Administration Grant which relieved her with 10 thousand dollars. With that money, she invested in herself and officially launched her new business Glitterhouse, LLC. This supply business includes glitters, nail foils, nail tips, pigments, nail stickers and more.
Moreover, life is about viewing situations with a ‘glass-half-full’ mindset. According to Business Insider, if one can create a company that is valuable to people in an environment that is full of declining demand and rising unemployment, one’s business will be “stronger when the economy starts to improve”.
Minor Setback, Major Comeback
Destini Webster, the owner of @catchdatbeat, decided to take the recession into her own hands by investing in two businesses. She is launching her beauty product line and a restaurant called The Good Berry
Webster is currently a makeup artist based out of Tallahassee. She began freelance makeup her sophomore year of high school. She was inspired by her mentor who worked at a MAC Cosmetics located in the mall. The, then, aspiring makeup artist focused all her energy on learning the basics of makeup during this time. While everyone hung out with their pals after school, Webster learned her color theories and application. In 2014, she chose to become a makeup artist, get her LLC and create her business.
After high school, the guru enrolled in Florida A&M University as a broadcast journalism student. During her collegiate years, she began doing makeup full time. Webster says makeup isn’t necessarily her passion. Instead, it was a gateway hobby that led to her new business ventures. She claims she simply enjoys helping others reach their fullest potential.
“It made me realize my purpose is being their best selves,” Webster said, “when I realized it, I capitalized on that.
The full beauty line includes eyeshadow, lip gloss, mascara, and brow pencils. Webster’s business recently became acquired by a family friend’s firm. The firm helps business owners get capital and seed money to launch their businesses.
“If you’re a real entrepreneur, you saw corona as a time to sit back and really figure out how to make your business that much better.”Webster
Although COVID-19 has crippled many other business owners, it helped this entrepreneur feed her passion.
“If you allow one hiccup, two hiccups, or three hiccups to get you down, what’s to say you’re deserving of what’s on the other side of that,” Webster said.