‘Something we’ve had to work through:’ Businesses struggling during pandemic
Nevada County aestheticians must calculate physical and financial risks as they work through or wait out the pandemic.
A January report from the California Employment Development Department revealed 6.8% of Nevada County’s labor force remained unemployed as of December. The statistic, although not as low as pre-pandemic, looks hopeful after the rate peaked countywide at over 14% in May.
This positive change is not reflected in all industries. The unemployment rate in the leisure and hospitality sector is nearly three times that — at 17%.
Taylor Van Eynde, an aesthetician at the Yoni Temple, said she just went off unemployment last week after the most recent shelter-in-place order was lifted.
Van Eynde said the December order, introduced by Gov. Gavin Newsom, marked the second time this year she received government benefits.
“I filed for unemployment back in the summer, so when the shutdown happened again in early December I went back on unemployment,” Van Eynde said.
Van Eynde said she was grateful to find that applying for benefits her second time around was a smooth process.
“It was easy and delightful,” Van Eynde added. “That came as a pleasant surprise, since a lot of people struggled with that.”
Van Eynde said reopening after five weeks of locked doors may be challenging to all businesses, but the extended interruption of available services is particularly unwelcome in an industry dedicated to physical upkeep.
“Business-wise, especially with waxing, we encourage people to come back every four weeks,” Van Eynde said. “The shutdown got in the way of that, in terms of client comfort and customer satisfaction.“
Van Eynde said timing is crucial in terms of providing quality service.
Van Eynde added that the Yoni Temple opened in August, and is working hard to develop a consistent clientele.
“You can fumble things, especially building a new business,“ Van Eynde said. ”When you want to have clients who can come back consistently, the shutdowns have just been something we’ve had to work through.“
Morgan Blanc, another aesthetician in Nevada County, said the pandemic has “severely impacted” her income.
Blanc said directives from the state have been hard to follow because her line of work has fallen into different categories at various points in the state’s spectrum of shutdowns.
Blanc said she trusts herself to maintain the safety standards recommended by the state, but not necessarily potential customers.
“Being a one-on-one type of business person, I’m obviously confident in my sanitation and disinfection,” Blanc added, “but even prior to COVID, we had people getting us sick due to not telling us and wanting their treatments done anyways. It’s a slippery slope.”
Blanc said she has a higher operating cost overall that’s hard to cover under normal rates.
“I have several extra things I’m doing just to keep myself and my clients safe, but that also creates extra expenses that can’t realistically be made up as fast as we would like to,” Blanc explained.
Blanc said when she and her freelancing peers have sought out financial recourse through available government grants, they were denied based off insufficient gross sales.
Rose West of Hairlines Salon in Nevada City said most of her clients have preferred to stay home during the lockdowns, though there have been a few “special requests.”
“Some asked if we could be ’creative’ and bend the rules and do their hair at our homes or theirs — wearing masks,” West said.
On the flip side, some clients told the salon they were concerned about the business being open to the public at all.
West echoed Van Eynde’s concern about retaining clientele amid changing expectations and legal restrictions.
“There is the concern that our clients are going elsewhere,“ West said. ”We still have to pay our salon rent and overhead, so it’s tough. I especially felt bad for all of us when we were forced to lose our income at Christmas time.“
Despite these struggles, Van Eynde considers herself fortunate. Unlike former coworkers in bigger cities along the coast, Ven Eynde said she finds solace and support from the Nevada County community and the Yuba River.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Free virtual event “COVID-19 Fallout: How to Get Your Life Back”
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Speakers: Rachel Roos, director of Nevada County Social Services
Scott Lay, Nevada County superintendent of schools
Rick Hansen, vice president of Myers Investment Group at Baird Personal Wealth Management
Register here: https://covid19.theunion.com
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