Written by Jameca Patrick-Singleton (posted by Tanya; editor)
Theresa Nelson is an entrepreneur in the Flint area. She launched her business, Sweet T’s Kids Spa and Salon in 2018. As Flint area’s only kids’ spa, Sweet T’s is even more unique than other salons because not only do they primarily serve kids, they specialize in providing services to children with special needs. According to Nelson, business was booming prior to COVID.
“One of the services that we offer is spa and party packages that include everything from manis and pedis to chocolate facials and make-up application,” Nelson said. “We started booking so many parties that we had began the process of expanding what we were offering. I secured more space and purchased more products to add a party room so that parents could have a space to provide ice cream and cake and include games. We wanted our clients to have a full party experience.”
Nelson told the Flint Courier that just prior officially to launching this new expansion COVID-19 hit.
“Suddenly everything stopped,” she said. “Not only couldn’t I book parties, I also couldn’t do hair or collect booth rent from the other stylists at my salon. So there I was, with no income and double the building rent (due to securing the new space).”
While the salons have been re-opened since late June, the impact that has been experienced continues to be ongoing.
“Before we could even open we had to make major adjustments to the salon. We had to completely take out one stylist station so that we could spread the other stations at least six feet apart. We also had to purchase and build partitions between the remaining stations and at each of the manicure stations. We increased the budget for cleaning supplies and purchased PPE. We even installed a washer and dryer so that we could immediately wash and dry towels onsite. We had to do all of this before re-opening, which required spending unexpected money without having any money coming in.”
Re-opening a salon that caters to children of special needs came with yet another set of issues.
“Though we had purchased additional tablets for our young clients to use while receiving their services and bought more weighted blankets to help calm them, this new way of receiving services is still difficult for some of them to adapt to. They don’t like wearing the masks and don’t understand why they can’t hug their stylist after they are done with their service. Besides that, to keep the number of people in the salon to a minimum, their parents are no longer allowed to sit in the salon while the kids are serviced. We (the stylists) have also been staggering our appointments, which means that we aren’t seeing as many people and therefore not earning as much as we were pre-COVID.”
Despite of the challenges, Nelson feels blessed to still be in business.
“Sweet T’s has experienced some difficult days, but we are still here and serving the community. Many businesses, some with owners that I personally know, and that had been around for many, many years and never re-opened after the COVID-19 shutdown.”