Salons and barbershops take their services outside

Business owners weigh the challenges and opportunities of outdoor haircuts

Salon and barber shop owners had permission from The City to reopen outdoors on Tuesday. But not everyone was eager to start cutting hair outside.

Louise Frost, owner and stylist at CODE Salon, said she doesn’t plan to reopen her store until she and her stylists can work indoors. She said the salon, located on Clara and Fourth streets in the South of Market, is located near a large homeless population that makes it difficult to bring work outdoors.

“All the fun stuff that you can imagine happens out there. And for the safety of our guests and ourselves, not because of [COVID-19] but because of the [people] on our street, it would not be something we’d be interested in,” said Frost.

Instead, Frost plans to wait until the next potential reopening phase, when employees can work inside with the proper personal protective equipment. Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday that that could come as soon as as the end of the month.

Happy to be open again, Nathan Carda, owner of Nate’s Barbershop, worked on his friend and customer Anthony Killsright on Tuesday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Happy to be open again, Nathan Carda, owner of Nate’s Barbershop, worked on his friend and customer Anthony Killsright on Tuesday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Rather than styling and cuts, Frost has focused on retail sales and marketing to support her business.

“Kudos to every hairdresser [or anybody in our industry] that’s trying to survive right now. I’m 100% in full support, it’s just not something that CODE is really going to be able to do at this point in time,” said Frost.

Erika Redding, owner of Red Union Salon in the Marina District, said she is also unable to open because she can’t access electricity and water for coloring hair outside.

She added that with the amount of foot traffic and thick smoke from the recent wildfires, working outdoors wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for her employees or clients anyway. The shutdown has forced her to cancel appointments every week.

Others, however, were ready to embrace the challenges of working outside.

Studio Estrada in the Lower Haight is prepared to open its backyard patio for haircuts thisWednesday morning. Co-owner Donna Bernstein said that since the salon closed in March, it’s been rebranding the business and catching up on store maintenance.

Hector Estrada, senior stylist at Studio Estrada, works with his assistant Regan Mellos on a client on the back patio. (Courtesy photo)

Hector Estrada, senior stylist at Studio Estrada, works with his assistant Regan Mellos on a client on the back patio. (Courtesy photo)

“We’re very excited to open our doors,” said Bernstein. “We had a three-day trial run [three weeks ago], so now we know exactly what to do and we’re ready.”

Bernstein said the patio is like a “private oasis.” When Studio Estrada did open for those three days, some clients asked to permanently move haircuts outside.

The closure has actually brought the team of stylists closer together, Bernstein said, and drawn support from the community; a GoFundMe fundraiser started by Bernstein to support the income of her stylists garnered $35, 430 in four months.

Nate’s Barbershop owner Nathan Carda will also be open on todayWednesday, working under a canopy outside his business. Business has been rough for Carda since the shutdown, with no work for about six months.

“I know everybody else is frustrated with […] cutting hair outside, but we have to do what’s best for the business,” said Carda. “I know some people may not agree with cutting hair outside […] but we have to take everything that we can at this moment.”

Carda said being a barber during this time is actually a blessing, because he can cut hair anywhere. He’s excited to start generating business to make up for the loss of six months, and clients have been booking appointments left and right since the announcement from Breed.

“We’re just a small shop man, and we’ve been here for nine years, so to give us the opportunity to cut hair outside is just a blessing,” he said.

A SuperCuts on Sloat Boulevard was open and offering haircuts outdoors on Tuesday. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)

A SuperCuts on Sloat Boulevard was open and offering haircuts outdoors on Tuesday. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)

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