On Aug. 8 Masterpiece Hair Studio had its one year anniversary, but instead of having a bustling salon and balloons outside to mark the occasion, owner Jessica Zerolis was cutting a client’s hair outside her salon door.
In response to health and safety concerns due to the coronavirus, Zerolis had to decide whether to close altogether or continue to only provide hair cut services outside her salon.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSICA ZEROLIS
CUTTING LOST TIME Masterpiece Hair Studio owner Jessica Zerolis looks back on the challenges of operating her salon for a year that included the unexpected challenges of COVID-19.
That changed on Aug. 31, when the state unveiled new guidelines for reopening and living with COVID-19.
Gov. Gavin Newsom released the state’s new Blueprint for a Safer Economy
—a color-coded, tiered framework for reducing COVID-19 and adjusting permitted sector activities to keep Californians healthy and safe.
Counties in the purple tier, such as SLO County, are considered to have a “widespread” risk level, and many non-essential indoor business operations are to remain closed. However, several businesses were given the green light to reopen for indoor service, including hair salons and barbershops.
On Aug. 31, salons across the county had clients in their chairs once again for a proper shampoo, cut, and a blow out finish.
Zerolis had several clients walk into her salon for their appointment that day, which made her happy and reflect on the past six months of challenges that got her to this point.
She told New Times
she missed the 2019 summer season of tourists and walk-in customers because her salon wasn't quite ready yet. Thankfully, Zerolis said, she had her dad Rob Mills to help bring her vision to life
and speed up the process—Mills custom-crafted the cabinetry, shelves, and desk space for the salon.
She kept in mind that the first year is always a challenge for a new business. She thought, there’s always next year. At the beginning of this year, Zerolis said, she finally exhaled having a full staff and a nail technician-seven individuals.
Similar to other business owners, Zerolis didn’t anticipate that she would miss the summer season again due to public health concerns that would effectively shut her doors for about five months.
“It’s very discouraging. I keep opening and building things up and then have them torn down again,” she said.
She’s now down to three hairstylists, including herself. When Masterpiece Hair Studio was able to provide haircutting services outdoors, Zerolis and another stylist alternated their days to continue working.
Now that she and her stylists are able to work on clients inside the salon, Zerolis said she feels invigorated. She’s also thankful to her loyal clients who have been patiently waiting for her to reopen indoor services and to those who have gotten a cut outdoors as well.
“This year makes me feel like anything that comes my way I can handle. It’s almost like a tornado came through, and we’re still standing,” she said.
Clarification: This article was updated to more accurately reflect Jessica Zerolis' thoughts on the challenges of Masterpiece Hair Studio's first year in business. ∆