Coronavirus: Chicago barbers, stylists saying 'no' to house calls

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago area barbers and hairstylists are calling on others in their industry to stop taking house calls.

It's a firm stance stylists are taking to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Many stylists are struggling right now. They don't want to violate the stay at home order, but at the same time, many are finding it hard to make ends meet.

A salon owner and trailblazer in the beauty industry, Rahni Flowers may be best known for styling former First Lady Michelle Obama's hair for decades.

He and his partner Daryl Wells, have kept Van Cleef Hair Studio open for nearly 40 years, but everything changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic

"This has been a tremendous challenge for us," Wells said. "We're worried about how do we keep the business open. How do we keep our staff paid and then of course, how do we best care for our clients."

The owners say this transition has been extremely hard on their business and their clients.

"There's a really interesting dynamic that goes on in the black community relating to hair dressers and barbers," Flowers said. "It's cathartic, it's therapeutic and stress relieving."

But during the pandemic, the owners say the best way to care for their clients is to keep them at a distance.

Ron Sherrod has been a barber for nine years and says his clients have been open about just how much they miss him.

"My clients are going through it pretty rough right now," Sherrod said. "They've been sending me pictures of how their hair looks and it doesn't look too good right now.

Sherrod says he's heard of other barbers in his industry caving in and meeting clients to cut hair.

But he, and the owners of Van Cleef, say there's no amount of money that would tempt them to put themselves or their clients in harm's way.

"It's up to us in our industry to show them how to do these things at home in a healthy and safe way," Flowers said.

So stylists and others in the beauty industry are now using technology to help their clients.

Do it yourself videos on Instagram and other social media platforms are helping people get by and maintain their beauty standards.

Flowers says he's even hosting video conference with his clients to walk them through their hair, step by step. He encourages his fellow stylists in the industry to do the same.

"I understand the financial and economic pressures," he said. "Know that you are helping your community by staying home and helping them stay at home. We always come through-As we say in our community, we can make a way out of no way."

People in the beauty industry said that they're on the lookout for their stimulus check from the federal government. Some plan to apply for local and private loans to get by.

It's a tough time, but many say they're committed to flattening the curve and keeping their clients safe.
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