Queen Bee Blog
Thoughts from Alex about the early pandemic and reopening Queen Bee Seattle
We were allowed to re-open our salon in Washington in mid-June. The first adventure was reading the new requirements (7 pages!), figuring out the new requirements, and then implementing them. Finding the PPE was difficult. We were mindful that the best stuff needed to go to hospitals. We also wanted to get our employees back to work, but only if they felt safe being there. I found a guy who was picking up a shipment of masks from the port (which port, I don’t know, that was just what he told me) and he sold us a case which he dropped off at a family member’s business, so I never actually saw him. We found shields on Etsy. I ordered enough tongue depressors and table paper that our medical distributor was willing to send, for free, a full-sized semi-truck to rural Washington so that I could squeeze it all into my car.
Somehow we got all of the equipment and we were able to re-open. Then it was about actually doing the waxing. It was hard! With the exception of one person, who was quarantining with a waxer, no one had been waxed in at least three months. Waxing devotees, including myself, tried all sorts of kits and shavers and trimmers to keep things tidy. It wasn’t easy. And we waxers were out of shape! It turns out it’s difficult to stand all day and jump right into the physical work of waxing after 3 months of doing other things, including making homemade soft pretzels, bagels, and bread. Basically, it felt like the perfect storm of difficulty, maybe even more challenging than my first few waxes which took over an hour. Maybe not.
Truth be told, I was scared to go back. I’d heard challenging stories from colleagues in other states. We were going to be performing services in closed rooms and in physical contact. I’d had the enormous privilege of staying with my amazing aunt, uncle, cousins, and a little baby. My best friend came out on a weekly basis to deliver my mail and take a walk outside. Like many others, our family lost someone very special and it didn’t really hit me until I re-entered the real world. I missed my immediate family and it felt strange that I hadn’t seen them in so long. I was so lucky and it was super difficult to leave that bubble – I love them all so much and was worried about a feeling of isolation and separation.
I came into work that first day, took my temperature (turns out I run cold, a thing I hadn’t known before), and got to work. I remember one appointment in particular. I was sweating and I was tired and my mask, which I ended up retiring the next day, was fogging up, which is definitely not something I wanted to happen given the parts involved. I was feeling so many emotions and I sort of started tearing up behind my shield. I just didn’t see how I was going to be able to do this. My client was so kind while I took a brief break and got back to work. Then, they left me a generous tip to make up for all the tips they missed while we were closed. But it wasn’t about the tips, I promise. It was about how when he paid, he made a special effort to tell me how happy he was that we were back and that my services matter to him. I heard that so many times throughout the next month.
Actually, I’m still hearing that today. I can say without equivocation that the love and respect we received from clients has been incredible. In the months since we’ve opened, I’ve had hundreds of appointments and I have asked maybe 4 people to raise their masks, and at least one was because their mask just accidentally slipped down. People were so kind to write reviews that generated many new clients from different parts of the city. Clients canceled if they felt even remotely sick. Not a single of my clients has had a coughing attack in my room, even though allergy season has been challenging, to put it mildly. People have been super understanding of our changing and slightly more limited hours. In short, our clients made re-opening feel safe and appreciated. And I started to feel like my waxing room is a safe extension of my bubble, which still includes only the same people it always did.
I’m not going to pretend that I love the current reality and could do this forever in these conditions, because honestly, I don’t have much interest in that. But it feels like this will be coming to an end at some point on the horizon and then we can go back to something new. It won’t be like it was before, but I know for a fact that I’ll be able to look back on this time and be grateful for all of the people that went through it with me.
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