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Beauty and the Covid beast: Bengaluru salons seek government's help to tide through pandemic

Hit by the second lockdown in as many years, Bengaluru’s beauty industry has gone online to stay afloat and is now seeking government assistance

Published: 31st May 2021 04:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2021 04:44 AM   |  A+A-

Salons had a small number of customers right up till the lockdown came into effect on May 10

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Facing the second lockdown in two years, beauty salons and spas in the city are struggling to stay afloat, a situation which has a ripple effect on their employees. “We were doing well last year after the lockdown and restrictions were lifted. But since the onset of the second wave, our business has been hit very badly,” says Manjul Gupta, founder of Bodycraft Spa and Salon.

According to an industry insider, the beauty industry employs close to 20,000 people in Bengaluru and 2.5 lakh people all over Karnataka. Most salons in the city had a small number of customers right up till the lockdown came into effect on May 10, and they’ve had to find ways to stay afloat. “We are now going online by conducting video consultations on pedicure, manicure, and hair styling for clients,” Gupta says. They have also begun selling beauty products and DIY kits through delivery apps.

Dipanwita Chhabra

Although she gets a lot of requests for hair styling tips from customers, Gupta says video consultations and DIY kits can only do so much. “Visiting the salon is an experience in itself. The same service cannot be created at home,” Gupta believes. Beauty bar Get Gorgeous too has taken things online. Last week, the Bengaluru-based salon chain began offering special manicures, pedicures and other grooming packages to customers via delivery apps. “The proceeds from these services will go into distribution of food, ration and towards people working in cemeteries,” says founder Maude Abraham.

In the meanwhile, she is trying to make the best of situation by preparing her staff for when things reopen. “We are beefing up hygiene and ensuring our employees are vaccinated. We will also be distributing self testing Covid- 19 kits to customers once restrictions are relaxed,” says Abraham. GlossnGlass plans to charge a nominal Covid fee to cope with increasing costs. “We are incurring additional losses in maintaining hygiene. It includes PPE suits and sanitation services.

At the same time, we need to pay rent, our staff, and keep the business running. So, we are planning to charge a nominal Covid safety fee,” says Dipanwita Chhabra, co-founder of GlossnGlass. Some of their staff who hail from the North Eastern states, have not returned since the lockdown last year, and a few more left before the current one was announced, she says. Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO of Lakme Salon which has 600 employees in Bengaluru, says business was half of what it used to be before the current lockdown. But he believes there is hope.

“While the second wave has significantly affected customer sentiment, we are hearing from our clients that they are eagerly waiting to come back,” he says. Shenai, who heads the Beauty and Wellness Association of India which is headquartered in Bengaluru, says they approached the government for help earlier this month. “Through the association, we have reached out to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and the state governments to vaccinate our staff and give us permission to reopen salons with stringent safety measures in place,” he says.



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