By Catherine Crum, The Salon Hair Replacement Boutique, Jefferson City, Missouri 

Catherine Crum

The past 18 months have been the most challenging time in my 18 years of business ownership. The pandemic stretched both my business, as well as me personally, and nearly broke my spirit. Our salon service demand was at an all-time high, yet our normally enthusiastic clientele battled depression, fear and anxiety as the pandemic dragged on.

During this already stressful time, I lost half of my hair salon service providers, as well as multiple members of the support staff. Despite the loss of staff, I stayed focused on my calling. The demand for hair replacement increased at a rapid rate. It ignited a fire like never before. 

The loss of the hair salon staff allowed me to become more laser-focused on my passion for helping others with hair loss. Seeing your business grow, diversify in its offerings and morph into something not initially imagined is truly amazing. There is always a silver lining in the midst of a storm. I’ve learned how to manage inventory shortages during the pandemic and have continued to learn, adapt and push forward as the economy and society start to open back up. 

I dealt with the loss of staff by expanding my hair-replacement business. I preordered when pieces were on back order to ensure I had stock on hand. I focused on increasing my on-hand stock to be able to customize my systems so my guests had a quick turnaround. Most of them went home with their new system either that day or at least within the next few days. I soon realized that if I didn’t have stock I would run into back order situations with some of my vendors. 

I learned to adapt by being transparent about our expectations and what our guests could realistically expect. Never over-promise! I had to practice patience when dealing with my vendors because of their own staffing issues and their turnaround time. I factored in the delay in communication with vendors or issues with inventory availability into my promise to deliver the final system to my guest. 

I dealt with the loss of staff by wishing them well. We are living in a world where many people are restless. Our guests, our team, our world are restless. We are all tired, exhausted, and longing for life post-pandemic. Fourteen years ago, I lost half of my staff because of a walkout and was forced to rebuild. I was once told to brace myself because losing staff is a fact of life. You soon realize that your employees can’t define your business. I am an owner, a service provider, and one of the hardest workers. When you lose members of your team you roll up your sleeves, add hours to your personal daily schedule, and take care of your guests. 

To maintain my passion, I focus on my calling to help others with hair loss. My passion will always overcome the circumstances around me. I love people. I love transformations. I love meeting people in their time of need, finding the correct system to fit their needs, and watching as their confidence grows. Those are the moments you realize that this is what you are called to do. 

Hair loss drove my growth. Stress, medical hair loss, and COVID-19 hair loss drove demand leading to business growth. 

That take-away from the past 18 months is simple: You can make plans, have visions, and think you have a direction. However, life can throw curveballs. Never get too comfortable. I can survive nearly anything. I’ve been through a lot in my 18 years of ownership and 24 years in the industry. I am strong! The bottom line is you must believe in yourself.