Kerala

Beauty business forced to take a back seat

Out of business: A beautician in a deserted salon in Thiruvananthapuram awaits customers.  

Mini Rajeev had taken a Mudra loan to spruce up her beauty parlour in Kochi. A few months later, COVID-19 happened and the lockdown was announced. She had to shut up shop, all her plans going up in smoke.

Though Ms. Rajeev, a member of the Kerala Beauty Parlour Owners’ Association, could finally reopen by mid-August, things are not exactly looking up. Her loan is pending, she can just about afford the rent, and she has had to let go of three employees.

80% remain closed

The pandemic has taken the glow off the beauty sector. Though parlours and salons were allowed to reopen last month, nearly 80% still remain closed, says Aryanad Mohanan, working president of the Kerala Beauticians’ Association.

“People are scared to visit salons and parlours. There just aren’t enough customers,” says Mr. Mohanan who used to run a men’s parlour at a hotel in the capital city. He had opened his establishment for a few days, but closed it again, since the meagre earnings from customers did not yield enough even to pay the staff.

As many as 4.5 lakh beauticians, mostly self-employed women entrepreneurs, are struggling to survive. Many have loans to repay and rent to pay. Without an income for six months, the going is just too tough for them. Only bigger establishments that have own buildings and offer premium services are getting by, he says.

Ms. Rajeev is working alone these days. Her former employees have turned to other jobs such as stitching to make ends meet. Also, health risks have prompted her to receive only familiar customers through advance bookings. “Many beauticians have taken loans for parlour renovations. All are desperate now,” she says.

‘Govt. must clarify’

As per Mr. Mohanan, people are still under the impression that only hair cuts are allowed in salons, since that was the only service allowed in the initial days of ‘Unlock.’ Though parlours have reopened, the government is yet to clarify that all services are open. Until that happens, people will not feel confident about stepping into parlours and there will be no point in keeping them open, he says.

The association also hopes the government will extend beauticians an interest-free loan to help them tide over the difficult times.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 11:14:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/beauty-business-forced-to-take-a-back-seat/article32572846.ece

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