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Safety comes first as Mahogany, Green With Envy salons reopen

By Susan Mustapich | May 20, 2020
Courtesy of: Mahogony, Denise Pukas Employees of Mahogany in Camden pose in their personal protective gear, which keeps them and customers safe.

Two large hair salon businesses that reopened last week stocked up on personal protective gear, and are making safety inside for customers and employees paramount.

Denise Pukas, owner of Mahogany Salon in Camden, and Tania Ackerman, general manager of Green With Envy Salon & Spa in five locations, shared information about some of the changes they have made in order to to reopen.

Mahogany reopened May 15. Pukas said that for the first couple of months, the salon will focus on rescheduling appointments for clients that had to be cancelled, when the salon closed in mid-March.

One day is reserved for hair cuts for men, which take less time, she said. The salon is also rescheduling hair extensions, which can take four to five hours.

To catch up on appointments, the salon, which employs five stylists, will be working seven days a week for several weeks, Pukas said.

Though the state allowed hair salons to open May 1, she made the decision to delay the opening and prioritize the safety of her team of stylists and clients. That meant waiting for her delivery of personal protective equipment and putting every possible safety protocol in place before opening.

"I wasn't going to take any risks on not following the proper protocols," she said.

"We want people to know that we are really paying attention," she said. The salon has always followed state cosmetology regulations, she said, and what they are doing now "is far beyond anything required before."

Pukas is confident that the protocols Mahogany is using are "over and above," and "top shelf" and she is finding that this is reassuring to returning customers. The salon also has "a few clients who are opting to wait." Whether that is because they are of the age where they might be more susceptible or have preexisting conditions, "we respect their decisions," she said.

Green With Envy's Rockland, Belfast, Augusta and Portland locations opened May 5 and Camden opened May 12, according to Ackerman. The Camden salon has the largest staff of the five locations and was undergoing renovations, she said.

She said the company's owners Marlene and Zack Cohn made a video about how to operate safely and manage the flow of customers, and provided all the personal protective equipment needed.  After seeing everything the owners had done, staff felt comfortable coming back to work, she said. The owners are also empathetic to stylists who have not returned to work yet. Some have high risk family members or children and day care that is not open. "We're all in this together, and they are helping all of us," she said.

Both companies are limiting the total number of people in the salon at any one time, and using new protocols for disinfecting stations in between clients.

Every station is disinfected from top to bottom after every client, which takes 15 minutes, Pukas said.

To provide time for sanitizing, clients wait in their cars, instead of inside the salon, before their appointments, Ackerman said. Both businesses use this procedure.

To limit the number of people inside each salon, Green With Envy is not taking walk-in customers, temporarily. Appointments made by telephone are being handled by one of the company's managers, who reviews a checklist of requirements with clients, Ackerman said.The manager worked hard to reschedule canceled appointments, she said, and those, plus referrals, are making up a large part of the appointments.

Disposable personal protective gear is another one of the big changes at both companies.

At Mahogany, staff wear disposable aprons, masks and gloves. They wear face shields when shampooing, Pukas said. Each station has a sanitation cart with hand wipes, sanitizers and masks. The stations include a set-up for disposable waste, which takes care of the masks, aprons and shields that stylists shed after each client.

Staff at Green With Envy wear surgical masks and clean aprons, changed between every single guest, Ackerman said. Glasses are worn during shampoos, and clients eyes are protected as well. Gloves, always worn while coloring or perming hair, are now worn as much as possible, she said.

Customers at both salons are also required to meet safety standards. They have to wear masks, or use masks provided. Mahogany has customers wash their hands, limits what they can bring in with them to a small hand bag and has stopped serving beverages. Talking is even limited, to protect staff and clients, Pukas said.

Green With Envy is limiting shampooing and styling with hot tools, and asking customers coming in just for hair cuts to have clean and dry hair. Capes for guests are stored in a closed area, drawer or container, another precaution.

Ackerman mentioned that a checklist is posted on the salon doors, and a few clients have had to cancel because they had traveled, or came down with symptoms. "People are being really great," she said, "They are happy to cooperate."

Since reopening, staff have been asking guests "if they felt this was a great appointment and felt safe," Akerman said. "All the feedback has been positive that we've been doing a great job and that they felt safe," she said. "That made me feel proud."

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 20, 2020 10:36

Must be quite a trick to cut hair with rubber gloves on.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 20, 2020 08:24

Thank you Susan for writing this story.  We all need to step up to the plate and do whatever we can to support our small local businesses at this most difficult time.  I hope to read more stories like this from other types of business trying to get back into the game.

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