Part I of VI Back to Business
Araceli Pantoja-Powell, owner of the Hair and Now Salon in Aurora, described her emotions toward COVID-19 as being on a rollercoaster ride.
She had a sense of uncertainty when her business was forced to close in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pantoja-Powell said she was led to believe she would receive government relief from programs that were intended to support small businesses like the CARES Act, which contained $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses. And although she applied for the loan, Pantoja-Powell didn’t hear back from government officials.
“Not all small businesses got taken care of. I was one that did not, and that made it really difficult,” said Pantoja-Powell. “That’s what upset me the most. There were a lot of ups and downs of not knowing what was going on. The uncertainty of everything — that was really hard.”
While her salon was closed down for nearly two months before it could finally reopen in mid-May after receiving guidelines from the state, Pantoja-Powell said her landlord was unwilling to be flexible with her and her rent. Instead, her landlord told her that if she was late paying her rent, she wouldn’t charge her a fee.
“We were out of income, and not only that, but for me, I had to pay rent,” said Pantoja-Powell, adding that she paid for rent out of her own pocket. “I had to do it, and it’s done now. Things are getting better as long as we don’t have to (close) all over again.”
Pantoja-Powell describes Hair and Now Salon’s building as roomy, making it easy for her and her employees to follow COVID-19 related restrictions like staying six feet apart from each other. Her and her employees wear masks, and Pantoja-Powell acquired Lysol and sanitizer for clients that need it.
“I’m trying to do everything I can. Am I fearful? Not really,” said Pantoja-Powell. “I do what they recommend us to do. And that eases my mind.”
Pantoja-Powell has 20 hairdressers, but because of social restrictions, she can only have five employees working at a time. She said restricting the number of employees she can have working at a time has been challenging and forced her to come up with a rotating schedule so that everyone could have an equal opportunity to work.
Pantoja-Powell said some clients of the salon are still not comfortable going out.
“It has been slower, but with the restrictions, we have no choice but to accept that. We’re open, but we all can’t work full-time,” she said.
Hair and Now Salon can be reached at 303-369-8060 or at www.hairandnowsalon.com. It is located at 10890 E. Dartmouth Ave.