French Hairdressers in New York are Reopening

Jérôme Obry (left) and Martial Vivot

For several months now, Sophie Guattari, Director of Operations for Biguine salons in the United States, has been working tirelessly for the reopening of his two Manhattan salons. “We had a lot of things to review, such as the schedules, the layout in the salons and the implementation of a strict sanitary protocol including social distancing, disinfection of all equipment between each client,” among other things. Hairdressers are confronted with wearing masks, visors, gloves, and plastic aprons in oppressive heat. Difficult working conditions, to say the least. But these are the conditions that need to be met to be able to welcome customers again since the entry of New York into Phase 2 on June 22nd.

In the Martial Vivot salons, one located in Greenwich Village, and the other in Midtown, co-owner Jérôme Obry was able to adapt quickly to the situation. The salon was one step ahead, and was easily able to meet health regulations. “We have private boxes in the lounge, which allows us to respect safety distances,” he explains.

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A welcome reopening

“It’s been two weeks and the waiting list has only gotten longer. We have informed our customers of our situation throughout the confinement and they are very ready for our return,” says Jérôme Obry. The shop had been closed since March 14.

The Biguine lounges, closed since mid-March, are also very busy. “After the opening, we had a lot of work, people were relieved to come back. We found customers with very long hair, they had been waiting for us.” Now Sophie Guattari is looking ahead to the coming weeks. Since the closing of schools, families from the wealthy areas of Manhattan have left the city for the countryside and do not seem determined to come back right away. In addition, many companies are introducing teleworking. “If schools don’t reopen physically until the new school year or even next year, people won’t come back and that will affect us directly,” explains Guattari.

Jérôme Obry is not too worried about the future: “Our high-end clientele is there and will continue to be. Now I’m more worried about the small Barber Shops, which are set up on top of each other and are more affected by health regulations.” For example, lounges now have to maintain a distance of six feet between each customer. Seriousness in respecting these new rules is essential for keeping the lounges open, as Sophie Guattari explains. “We have to protect our customers, but also our team. If one of our employees were to contract the virus, we would have to inform the authorities, which would lead to a tracing of the customers and then to the closure of the salon for disinfection. We really want to avoid that.” Biguine has its employees and customers fill out a form certifying their good health before they enter the salon. “Customers understand how difficult it is for us to work like this. One lady just called to say that she forgot to leave a tip for her hairdresser to thank her for her service, which was done safely and with all the right equipment.”