Salon helps clients escape hair damage: Pandemic highlights importance of professional care

Kelly Pattie & Kimberly Hagan

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Hair can show signs of stress too, and lack of professional care over the past year may have left some wondering where to begin with distressed and miscolored locks.

But not the clients at Affinity Salon in North Smithfield.

Kimberly Hagan, co-owner of the business, notes that the salon first closed due to COVID, her and business partner Kelly Pattie worried that their client’s hair could be in rough shape when they saw them again.

“We thought and thought about it,” Hagan told NRI NOW. “We came up with our own plan to have a weekly pick up night where we made up personalized color kits for color clients, with detailed instructions and everything they’d need to do their color.”

Hagan said the plan not only helped clients to maintain their normal color during a time of separation, it prevented major damage and a major cost to the customers to have the stylists fix it once Affinity reopened.

“We had them sign a waiver and it worked great,” Hagan said. “It held them over and kept 90 percent of them away from box hair color. We also retailed our products to them to help maintain their hair’s integrity during the long stretches of no hair cuts.”

Hagan says that with the exception of cuts being overgrown, everyone’s hair was in good shape when they returned.

“They weren’t blow drying, flat ironing, or curling ironing everyday to head out and about, or into the office,” Hagan said. “It was terrific for our clients who tend to use a heat tool everyday, which is one of the main offenders of distressed hair.”

Affinity was closed for ten weeks, and while Hagan notes it was stressful for everyone, the changes opened doors for the salon.

“Clients had a new appreciation for what we do, saying ‘I never want to do my hair color again myself’ or ‘my husband has doing my color kits for me and he’s ready to retire from it’, ‘he now knows why it takes so long and costs what it does’,” Hagan said.

The stylist notes that some clients grew their hair out during the shutdown, which allowed salon staff to experiment and try a different style once they came back.

“Shut down also gave those clients on the verge of growing out their gray hair the courage to do so,” Hagan added. “They felt ‘well it’s grown out this much, let’s see how I like my gray for real.’ So, when they came back, we helped guide them into a new look to make them feel confident in their natural hair color.”

“We have a special relationship with our clientele, like most hairstylists,” said Hagan. “We missed them, they missed us.”

Hagan and Pattie checked in on some clients through email while the business was closed, knowing that when the pandemic started they were already going through a tough time in life.

“When we opened back up we were literally seeing clients before they went to their doctors, dentists, or even saw their own grandkids,” Hagan said. “We were definitely high on some priority lists.”

“That’s the magic of being a hairstylist: the relationships – not only trying to make them comfortable in your salon and how you do their hair, but in how you internally make them feel,” said Hagan. “It is not vain to want to look and feel good, even when you are stuck at home. We knew it would be emotional for some of our clients to not feel like themselves as they pass by the mirror.”

The caring crew at Affinity, she notes, wanted to make sure that their hair was one thing clients didn’t have to worry about.

“They may have not been great during shut down, but good was a win for both parties,” Hagan said.

While Hagan notes that stress can cause issues with skin and hair, in many cases, her crew saw improvements in both hair and emotional health.

“If you think of it, besides Covid, a lot of people’s normal every day stressors were out of the picture… no traffic on your work commute, no jam-packed weekends where you can’t even catch your breath, no stressful holidays with stressful family members for some, the list goes on,” Hagan said. “It actually forced everyone to slow down and release themselves from the guilt of not keeping up with every day life.”

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