As soon as New York City became the epicenter of America’s Covid-19 crisis, I started to reach out to my contacts within the beauty and wellness industry. This is a community I have become quite fond of. There were times when I leaned on these self-care insiders for support, in more ways than they realize. Ignoring my community at this time would feel very wrong.
The confusion of “what do we do?” has set in and founders of businesses have handled the pandemic in various different ways. Let’s state the obvious. The way you handle the unpredictable will vary on case-by-case basis. Some have a monetary cushion to lean on, some are diversifying the way they do business, some are struggling to keep afloat, and some are taking a much-needed break from working all together. What we can do is help each other in whatever way we can. Aiding each other means we survive, and maybe even thrive together. Let’s not allow our community to sink. Aveda has stepped up in helping and made an important announcement today. The well-known professional brand launched Aveda Cares, a multi-faceted, multimillion-dollar relief program to help salons recover from COVID-19 closures. The relief includes a 1.5M+ fundraising effort for the Salon and Spa Relief Fund in celebration of Hairstylist Appreciation Day, which falls on April 30th. Aveda is kicking things off with a $600,000 donation to the fund, which will allow salons to apply for grants in denominations of $2,500 and $5,000 to help restart their businesses. The program further helps by increasing salon commissions to 40% from April 1 through June 30th, working with its salon partners to offer deferred payment on outstanding balances, and providing free access to a robust 8-week education program (available to Aveda stylists and salons) taught by lead stylists and experts in hair cutting and coloring, styling, skin care and makeup. “The goal of our virtual education programming is to give our partner salons and Artists the opportunity to hone their craft and learn new techniques during their downtime,” said Kevin Molin, Aveda’s VP of Global Education.
Fans of Aveda products can make their own donation when checking out on Aveda.com, which will then be donated to The Salon & Spa Relief Fund. In addition, customers can redeem their Pure Privilege Points (Aveda Loyalty Members only), turning the Points into dollars which will be directly donated to the fund. For direct donation go to https://salonandsparelieffund.org.
The work the beauty and wellness community does is needed now, more than ever: teach it, get creative with it, check on the less fortunate, collaborate with new contacts, and then keep passing the baton. Let’s weather the storm like a community should.
Notes from the Beauty & Wellness Community
Leila Aalam, Founder of Beuti Skincare
We have been working on adapting to the new normal as quickly as possible through keeping customers informed of any delays in shipments due to delays at the postal services around the UK. Due to some of the changes happening around the world our cash flow is tighter than normal so we are taking advantage of the resources our government put into place for small businesses. We are taking some of this time to shift our priorities to projects that we had planned on working on later this year, which include a newly designed and user friendly online shopping experience on beutiskincare.com, new marketing materials and enhancing our social media initiatives. As a small business we are always wearing many hats and the unexpected can happen at any time. We are trying to focus on the positive and move forward. We will get through this and be stronger for it.
Julie Longyear, Herbal Chemist & Founder of Blissoma
The pandemic has caused shifts in staffing and our manufacturing operations have shifted and we have also decided to introduce a new product. If you had told me a few months ago I would be prioritizing the formulation and launch of a new hand cream I would have laughed. At Blissoma we specialize in face and body care and have been growing tremendously in spas, which are now closed. I learned some time ago that chaos means opportunity because it removes a lot of barriers that are usually in place. We are keeping a positive attitude, connecting with our community as much as possible, producing a lot of free wellness content, and working hard and smart to evolve and remain relevant. Our goal has always been to be of service to people’s health, and that is more important than ever.
Dr. Kan Cao, Scientist & Founder of Bluelene
At Mblue Labs, home of science-based skincare line Bluelene, we have been focusing on two main areas during COVID-19: Customer Care and Community Impact. Our patented ingredient Methylene Blue builds optimal skin health, but also has a long history as a strong virus fighter, which has added some interesting new angles to our brand story.
We feel our customers have a greater need for meaningful brand communication during this stressful time. As a brand that collaborates with research institutions like NIH, NSF and the University of Maryland, we are in a unique position to offer science-backed self-care and health tips. We increased the number of blogs, our social media outreach and press coverage significantly to communicate our messages through various touchpoints. One of our first pivots during the pandemic was to quickly formulate and produce a moisturizing hand sanitizer that we are gifting to our customers, as well as the DMV community. We also donated all 500 N95 masks from our lab to a local hospital to support their COVID-19 fight.
COVID-19 has changed our channel focus for 2020. Instead of the traction we expected from traditional Beauty Retail and the Spa Market, we are full steam ahead on expanding our digital footprint. Our hand sanitizer, which was created to fill a societal need may end up becoming a new part of our product line, as customers are falling in love with its quick absorption and moisturizing benefits. And we are starting a new R&D project inspired by Methylene Blue’s virus warrior persona. Lots more to come from Mblue Labs
Neil Petrocelli + Ehrin Fitzpatrick, UNDRGRND Beauty
From the day a chemist enters the lab to create the next revolutionary product to the customer who’s hoping to find that certain something that will make her feel great- there is something about the beauty industry that continually breeds optimism (and hope)… We are using this ‘downtime’ to focus on helping clients prepare for their entry into this market, or their expansion – defining needs, creating strategies, and determining best tactics. Speaking of optimism, we believe our services provided are a gateway to long-term partnerships, and even more importantly, friendships made.
Antonia Schreiber, Owner of The Windham Spa in New York
It’s all about perspective. My staff, and I, along with our families are all safe and healthy at the moment. That is huge and priceless! That is why we are doing this (quarantine and self-isolation), because there is no price on a the value of a life. If you look at it from that perspective we are doing great.
If you look at it from a strictly fiscal stand point we are all hemorrhaging. On Friday March 13 I sat my staff down to let them know I made a short term decision on closing the spa based on the information we had at hand. I said we have been in business since 2006 and have made it through a lot. We survived the economic collapse of 2008. In 2011 we survived Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which wiped out our entire existence and my home in a matter of seven hours. We got no insurance money and literally had to rebuild from nothing. Nobody saw that coming. We made it through that… and now we are challenged with this.
What is so different about this scenario for me is that there is no known trajectory for our recovery, reopening as a business. If you want to speak metaphysically our lives are literally in the hands of the universe or God, whichever you prefer. I think that is the most challenging thing. The unknown. When you don’t know the coarse, you can’t make a plan. As opposed to the flood, which resulted in three months of homelessness and total annihilation of my business, the only direction we could go was up so to say. We hit rock bottom. UP was the only option.
This pandemic is very different. Thankfully we have our homes, we have our health, and there is a small safety net to get us through bare bones business expenses for a certain amount of time and be able to reopen with our staff but there are dozens of variables that go into that equation. Most days I surrender to the universe and say it will all work out, and then there are the days I am full of pessimistic “what if’s?”
Cultivated: Do you have any tips on bringing the spa home?
Spa is an attitude. Spa life is not just about relaxing music and phenomenal services. It’s about living in the moment and disconnecting from the world to reconnect to yourself. Taking the spa home means honoring the sanctuary of the space you created. When our clients walk through the door at the spa they say they feel the best vibes- it instantly relaxes them. The truth is they can have that at home, too. You just have to walk through the door and say this is my respite. This is my sanctuary to take care of me, and the people I love. Leave everything else at the door.
Oksana Sannikovå, Founder of Onå New York
Like most businesses, ours has been affected by the ongoing pandemic, but we expect our sales and operations to go back to normal once people are able to leave their homes and socialize. We adjusted our marketing strategy to the current situation and with the help of social media and email marketing we inspire people to focus more on self love and self care. Our production site is in South Korea and, fortunately, South Korea has been less affected by the pandemic than many other countries. As a consequence, our supplies have not been interrupted.
We have been trying to do our part by supplying 600 of our hydrating creams and masks to many NYC medical workers who are sacrificing their time and energy, and are putting their lives on the line while taking care of the Covid 19 patients in the NYC hospitals. We are also donating 20% of all sales for the month of April to Foodbank for New York City which is the City’s major hunger relief organization.
Matthew Milèo, Founder of Milèo New York
“The world has paused, giving all human beings time and space to reflect on what really matters. This often takes the form of our human ‘doing’ — whether that’s to catch up on our most passionate project, obsessively organizing our living space, or to create something that always wanted to be expressed.
Once the ‘doing’ has been fulfilled, the human ‘being‘ starts to take shape — and that’s when our soul that has often been neglected from our daily distractions and activities, finally has time to breathe and reminds us that there will always be a shining light in no matter what dark circumstance we find ourselves in.”
Lorena Balensi, Balensi Spa Owner and Aesthetician in California (As of the moment Balensi Spa is closed to help prevent the spread of the virus.)
Cultivated: How can we bring the spa home?
We would recommend to set up the ambiance by dimming down the lights, setting up an electric candle, and put on some relaxing music. We recommend the electric essential oil or electric wax burners over regular candles because regular candles are fire hazards.
To get that at-home relaxing experience start by setting up the atmosphere by using the tips above and asking Alexa to play spa music. You can also manually search for a spa music playlist on Spotify or Pandora. After you have got that spa feel added to your home, try doing a facial mask that meets your skincare concerns. There are tons of great DIY at home skincare mask that you can try. One example would be to mix honey, oatmeal, and a little bit of milk for an exfoliating moisture mask. From there you can draw up a bath and add in a few drops of the aromatherapy oils. Now that you’re ready, get an eye mask sit back, relax, and enjoy your at-home spa experience.