I just wanted to put into words for the record, so to speak, how we found ourselves in this strange place; I hope you find it interesting as there are reflections on the last days in the salon and how we decided to proceed, but also thoughts on how as a community, nation and world we deal with this challenging situation.

Today is Monday 6 April 2020 and if you’d have told me at the beginning of the year that the doors to Gorgeous would be closed on a long term temporary basis, I’d have asked you to take a reality check.  However, here we are!  The doors are closed, all our equipment and products have been safely stored away out of sight of any unwelcome guests and we’re all sat at home “staying safe, protecting the NHS, saving lives”.   

As the situation became more serious within the UK, we knew that things would be changing at Gorgeous.  We, as all our regular clients know, are already a hygienic working space with handwashing and disinfection and glove wearing as part of our routine around the salon, but we took the risks seriously and began upping the ante.  We added in handwashing for clients on arrival for any treatment not just nails, disinfecting every touch point between clients and anywhere we had touched with the last client, increased hygiene in any way we could.  By the middle of March, we began realising that we were going to be following other global nations and could see the signs of an imminent lockdown forming in the words of the government.  We, along with many other of our salon working and owning friends around the country, started preparing for the inevitable.  At Gorgeous this meant we began the process of rescheduling clients to enable us to safely remove nail products where possible.

Each day became more concerning to us and with just myself and Carley working with clients in that last week, we began feeling less happy being at risk ourselves as well as putting our clients at risk.  On 21 March we contacted all future clients for the next two weeks and either cancelled non-essential appointments or rescheduled for what we intended to be the last day on Monday 23 March.  Of course, I’m not saying any nail or beauty treatment is essential, but as nail professionals, we felt an obligation to remove as many clients’ nail products as possible as we recognised the imminent closure wasn’t going to be just a couple of weeks.  We all gave each other a socially distanced virtual hug goodbye and left the salon.  That was the last time I saw Carley and Deb and I think it was better that we thought we may be seeing each other again as it would have been so much tougher to say goodbye.  I know I’m not alone in missing those we spend so much time with usually, the loss of our friendship bonds is a reality that many of us are struggling with currently.   How do we keep going when we miss being around people so much?  

That was the weekend that the public decided they knew better than the experts and went out in their droves.  Carley and I had a long chat on the Sunday and after a night of reflection, as I don’t think either of us were sleeping well at that point, we agreed that we just didn’t feel comfortable putting anyone at further risk, be that our clients, ourselves or our families by proxy.  

It’s not the first time I’ve shed tears over Gorgeous and it will not be the last, but it is the first time my business has been under such threat of having no future.  That week I had had to make incredibly difficult decisions on the team, finances and our future as a salon, business and income provider.  The overriding thought throughout all the tough reality of this situation, as I am sure it is with everyone, is that of survival.  Whether it be on a personal level involving staying at home, or for those of us with small businesses, that are our livelihood, to ensure that they survive this hugely challenging time so we have a chance of rebirth on the other side of this.  The government by the end of that week had thrown lifelines out to small business and later to the self-employed, for which I will be eternally grateful, as it should be the difference between survival or permanent closure.  Although at this point most Kentish businesses are still awaiting their grants, but fingers crossed they arrive soon.

There are phrases that have implanted themselves in our everyday language since this began.   We began noticing it early on in new comments like  “have you had any symptoms?”,  “see you on the other side”, “stay well”, “stay safe”, “when this is over” “2 metres away please”, “do you have any loo roll?”….. there are so many new ways of conversing with people. 

I’m having days of just wanting to be hunkered down in the house and speak to no one, do nothing and just ignore the world, yet on other days there’s a desire to push myself to do everything and anything.  There’s been tears, laughs, sadness, shock and so many emotions that all of us will be going through.  The one thing we must do in this madness is be kind to ourselves.  Each day is now a new day with new ways of thinking and doing and we are living in an unknown world.  For some of us there are going to be losses much bigger than not seeing someone for a couple of months and our hearts go out to all and any who suffer losses during this pandemic. 

It is my firm intention for Gorgeous to be here “on the other side” of this and myself and my hard-worked hubbie, Trev, have been busy doing updates that we had planned some months ago to do over the Easter weekend.  Gorgeous will have a new image and feel when we return and will be rejuvenated, as will we be, and we hope all our loyal and wonderful clients will be too.

In the coming weeks I’ll be setting up a little video studio (good intentions) and will be doing some videos on products, nails and more.  Join our us on our Facebook page & group, on Instagram and keep in touch.

The human spirit is being tested in a way no one ever thought possible.  The marvel of our way of managing this trauma, as that is what it is, is miraculous really.  All of us will have thought about the worst-case scenarios, disaster planned and made decisions to watch or not watch the news and keep updated or whether our heads have been firmly placed in the sand.  We all know inherently what we as an individual need to do to get ourselves through this to secure our sanity and physical wellbeing.  Some of us are better at dealing with the situation than others.  I think for most of us beyond our mid-40’s, we grew up with the threat of the “cold war” and nuclear attack, 3 minute warnings, TV programmes like Threads that terrified us into believing the enemy would always involve nuclear fall out and a demise either instant or as a result of nuclear radiation levels.  This threat is not one we expected.  The generations below have had the joy of not living under the extreme nuclear threat, perhaps that’s part of the perceived lack of resilience amongst our younger people today.  Resilience is now going to become an essential part of our lives whether you are 5 years old, 50 years old or 80 years old.  We must all dig deep and learn to adjust to our new daily life of isolation from our loved ones.  It is a challenge that although stressful and difficult offers a great opportunity too.  Time!  Time to bake, time to learn new skills, time to share stories, time to volunteer, time to play games, time to walk, time to read, time to watch your Netflix watchlist. 

Time is the only gift of these days.

To all our clients we can’t wait to see you all when we return, and in the meantime, stay safe, stay home and stay well. 

Sue