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Small Business Shoutout: The Color Room


Toni Peanick - Owner of The Color Room

Once the pandemic was declared, I started reaching out to various business owners to see if they wanted to share their story. The story you and I don't know, but we should know. Being a business owner is stressful in itself, but then you have to shut down (in some way or another) because of a pandemic ... stress is understatement. I wanted to give these business owners a voice. The general public needs to know the inner workings of a small business. My hope is after reading some of the thoughts and stories from these business owners, a little more compassion will be had by everyone on the outside looking in.


Every Friday, I plan to feature a small business in a "Small Business Shoutout" feature. This Friday belongs to Toni Peanick. Toni was on Season 1 of the podcast, Episode 13: Tips On Having A Healthier Lifestyle and Attitude. In that episode, she talked about her battle with depression and anxiety and the way she coped with it in the past vs. the way she copes with it now. The pandemic certainly didn't help with her depression and anxiety, as she's the owner of a salon and spa. Here's her story:


COVID VS. SALON AND SPA

By Toni Peanick - Proud small biz owner of The Color Room

Many would claim that after experiencing a pandemic and quarantine, your favorite salon or spa is now essential. While we know we aren’t categorized as essential, tell that to an employee of one, or someone with uncolored roots. Salons and Spa’s were so very controversial during this virus, and I would like to share what I overcame, as well as my team.

Closing shop:

March 18- we voted as a team. We were not sure of what to do, because our county did not mandate a shutdown. (In the research I have done, no one legally can unless you are seen unfit to perform your business as to the standards of your state guidelines.) We all agreed to quarantine.


Photo By Toni Peanick

March 20- we announce we are closing for 2 weeks to quarantine. Shit got real. I sent the unemployment link to my team, and some even came in our office to file.

March 25- I apply for an SBA loan, 5 times. Yes, 5 times. (never heard back).

April 1- we announce we will remain closed until May 1. We implement curbside pick-up and a CRAZY gift card promotion to encourage sales. It was a hit! Our sales support team worked short shifts to cover orders, they masked, gloved, took payment over phone and delivered skin and hair care for at-home, curbside style.

April 3- I apply for the PPP Loan.

April 8- I got the PPP check in hand. My bank was amazing.

April 14- I interviewed with KMOV channel 4, about being closed and how we’re dealing. What an honor! At home haircuts were definitely a topic of discussion.


April 17- we announce we can open May 4; phase 1.


Photo By Toni Peanick

April 27- we launch invites to our fans to join us via Facebook live to discuss how we will reopen, safely. My leadership team ordered all of the supplies, created new protocols, and delivered new systems.

April 29- We announce on Facebook live that we will reopen with; limited number of guest’s allowed in the building, spaced out stations, masks required, temperature checks required, waiver signed (drawn by an attorney). We had to take some of our amenities away due to social distancing standards. (This greatly impacts the guest experience.)



Opening shop:

May 4- we reopen with new guidelines. We are swamped with people calling because St. Louis County is still closed, and while we would love to capitalize on this opportunity, we can’t accept these guest’s because of occupation guidelines. (25% of my normal number.) MASKING IS HARD AND HOT! Guest’s are unsure about life in general, employees are torn on the seriousness of the situation. I would say that 99% of our guest’s were ready for their lives back, and the other 1% thinks this is the new normal.


Photo By Toni Peanick

My takeaway:

During quarantine, I personally sat through and/or hosted 17 zoom meetings. I attended 3 webinars on safety guidelines. I completed 4 online hair courses. I completed 2 online “covid re-opening” courses. I home schooled 2 kids, with a toddler at home. My husband remained working, as he was in the middle of many jobs that people wanted done, or we wouldn’t get paid. (General Contracting). THIS WAS THE HARDEST, MOST STRESSFUL time of my life. Anxiety and depression started to kick in. I had to get back to what I LOVE.

After we re-opened we saw a huge INCREASE in sales. Employees stepped up to work more hours to get our guests in, therefore we increased in business for the next 2 months by 18%. We were missing 2 employees, who chose to stay home because they were expecting. We gained 3 employees through recruitment.

To date, 10 of our employees ended up testing positive for COVID, which put all of them out for 10 days. This impacted sales a little, but it really impacted the employees who were still working, as we were helping get those clients in who were helping cover their hours while they were gone. The employees in quarantine were helpless, as they were told to be around no one for 10 days, including their own family and kids. TELL A MOM SHE CAN’T SEE HER KIDS FOR 10 DAYS! Heartbreaking. I cannot, by law, make any exposed employee get tested, because that would put them in quarantine pending test results, which puts them out of work, which then closes the business again. We would have all had to test. As an owner, this is a hard pill to swallow, and no answer is right.

Realistically, there is no right answer. Some businesses never closed, some made provisions, and some closed down…. forever. It was a harsh reality check for my industry. And country. We cannot do hair or skin services, but restaurants could still serve food. Major retailers could stay open, many without masking, while small businesses were threatened with pulling licenses and fines. Government offices shut down, resulting in delays for every business, on every level. Deliveries have been backed up, resulting in retailers like myself, to run out of supplies, or pay 2 times as much to get them. Employees have become divided on opinions of the topic. And to add insult to injury, our country is in a political war. The hardest part is keeping the environment positive, upbeat and energetic for the guest, and employees, all while behind a mask and with people on edge. It’s hard to find the harmony, but we have done it. You have to keep going to keep as much normal as possible.

I was so excited for 2020, and I still am. We can only get better from here. We cannot allow this to take us down. We are under so much tension, and at the end of the day, we make decisions based on what the business, it’s consumers, and our employees need. And all are very different. How do you come to an agreement?

I had to put on my boss pants and make the hard decisions, alone. There was no order in place as a state. There were no orders for Salons and Spas in my county, at all. Ever. Yet I closed. I did what I could afford, while being socially responsible, and had we remained closed longer, we would be in really bad shape. Employee’s need paid. Bills need paid. Rent needs paid. Inventory needs ordered. Employee wellness benefits need to stay in affect. By staying closed, the economy will crash, one employee by one employee. It is my responsibility to help provide for my team, and lead them. Some may not agree with my decisions, but at the end of the day, I cannot throw away what I have worked so hard for, and invested so much in. I cannot live in fear. I have to remain strong. Our families need it, the economy needs it, and our kids need it. We are strong, and we have overcome far worse. This is something we will be able to say we made it through, stronger than before. The Pandemic was hard, but the comeback has been the most difficult, yet humbling experience for me.

Looking back, I would have told my team to mask up, and get to work. People still ended up getting it, and getting over it. It is truly terrible that people lost loved ones to this, and we are blaming EVERYONE but the real problem. It was not our country that allowed this to happen. We did not know what to do. These are opportunities to learn and grow for next time. In my opinion, we have FAR worse problems than this virus. That’s how I have felt for a while now. It’s so disheartening to see where the media puts the focus, and where they lack in putting focus. With a survival rate of 99%, you can almost die of ANYTHING other than this, yet we are scaring people, keeping people from providing, and telling them we will bail them out when this is all done. IT’S THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING. That is control and manipulation, at it’s finest. They beat you down, and then bring you back up and they are the “heroes”.

Nothing in life is free. Ask the men and women who fought so hard to get us where we are today. What a shame that all of their hard work is being thrown down the drain and we are going backwards. Thriving on drama. Making our free Americans rely on the government, and sit at home helpless. The money has to come from somewhere. We don’t just print more, we have TO EARN IT. America needs to get back to freedom. Back to love, back to providing. I WILL NOT WAIST MY LIFE LIVING IN FEAR. I AM NOT IN CONTROL OF MY DESTINY. GOD HAS A PLAN. I am sent here to do exactly this; provide, protect, respect, teach, pray and love. GOD BLESS THIS GREAT NATION.


CONTACT & LOCATION:

1155 Wentzville Pkwy, Ste 103 Wentzville, MO 63385 PHONE: 636-856-1400 CONTACT: info@wentzvillecolorroom.com


HOURS OF BEAUTY: SUNDAY: CLOSED MONDAY: 12:00PM - 7:00PM TUESDAY: 8:30AM - 8:30PM WEDNESDAY: 8:30AM - 8:30PM THURSDAY: 8:30AM - 8:30PM FRIDAY: 8:30AM - 7:00PM SATURDAY: 8:00AM - 4:00PM


Past "Small Business Shoutout"recipients:

*PAINT Nail Bar St. Louis

*Steve's Hot Dogs

*STL Veg Girl

*Go Fit Mom

*Robust Wine Bar