Interview with Hair Stylist Alyssa Olson

July 15, 2020
Interview with Hair Stylist Alyssa Olson

First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do here in Spartanburg?

I’m a 33 year-old Californian native living in the South! I’ve been in Spartanburg for about fourteen years now and I absolutely love it here! Since I’ve been here I’ve met and married my “bes fren”, Daniel Hagerman, and have successfully kicked off my career as a full-time, independent hairstylist and am currently working at Peridot Beauty Parlour.

You decided to leave your salon before stay-at-home measures started, correct? What was behind that decision? Do you think you made the right choice? 

I did decide to step away from the salon back in March, before any stay-at-home measures were mandated by Governor McMaster. My decision to do so was based heavily on the fact that I am currently pregnant and the lack of knowledge/information surrounding this virus at the time was quite worrisome. We just didn’t know what kind of affect COVID-19 could potentially have on a baby in utero, and, quite frankly we still aren’t clear of any long term affects that may emerge. Not only that, but back in March we still were under the impression that COVID-19 was transmittable via surfaces, but then we were also told by government officials that masks weren’t a necessary precaution for people to take. Doesn’t make much sense, right? There was just too much grey area for me to feel comfortable working in such close proximity and coming in physical contact with as many different people as I do on a daily basis to be able to do my job while simultaneously protecting my unborn child. There’s just no such thing as social distancing in a hair salon.

When did you feel comfortable starting back up at work?

This is a tricky question. All salons in the state of South Carolina were allowed to open by government order on May 18 after being shut down for about six weeks (and remember, I took myself out of work two weeks before the mandate). With that being said, I didn’t really feel comfortable returning to work, but as a self-employed person who wasn’t making money during that entire time I felt that I needed to come back to work so that I could pay my bills, especially since I’m about to go out on maternity leave, for which I also don’t get any type of pay. And anyone who works for themselves can tell you that the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is a joke. Trying to figure out how to even navigate through the state unemployment website was a nightmare, only to find out that PUA didn’t open up for self-employed people in SC until the end of April. So, I guess my answer is, I never really felt comfortable coming back to work, but I’m doing what I have to do to keep the roof over my family’s heads. Even after a couple of months of being back to work I still feel a bit uneasy about it all.

What does a typical day at work look like for you under COVID-19 guidelines? 

I can say that even though the numbers of positive tests are skyrocketing in SC, I feel that our salon is one of few in Spartanburg that are taking every measure possible to keep our community safe. On a daily basis: all stylists are required to wear masks and we ask that all of our clients wear a mask to their appointment, all stylists and clients are getting temperature checks before entering the building, all clients must sign waivers basically stating that they are well and do not believe they have been exposed to COVID-19, all clients are asked to wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the building, every stylist can only have one client in the building at a time so as to minimize contact as much as possible, all surfaces and tools must be sanitized after every single use, all client coverings must be washed after every use, all stylists’ aprons or plastic coverings must be washed or disposed of after every client, and we keep an air purifier/ozone machine running in the salon in an effort to kill any germs in the air. *WHEW* Sounds like a lot, but it’s really important to us that our staff and clients feel safe and comfortable in the salon.

You’ve mentioned before how important your relationships with your clients are. How have interactions changed behind masks?

Oh my gosh! Client relationships are more important than even my professional skill set it seems. I wouldn’t have a career if I didn’t have the friends and family that I’ve made over the years, one head of hair at a time.

Daily interactions are quite different now. There’s just a lot less hugging and banter happening. Masks muffle voices considerably, making it harder to hear and it’s a lot harder to pick up on facial expressions so interactions are pretty minimal at this point.

What are you into right now to de-stress? What’s your go-to self care?

De-stressing right now also looks a lot different for me. Normally, I would probably come home from work and nurse a beer or fix myself a cocktail, but since I’m pregnant, my evenings consist of naps and ice cream and the occasional epsom salt bath. No complaints here though!

Tell us what you’re reading/watching/caring about these days.

Okay well, for starters, I’ve got baby on the brain so right now I’m reading a lot about the birthing process. I know...super exciting. But mostly, my husband and I watch a lot of YouTube. That’s how we keep up with current events. Oh, and I’m a sucker for true crime/paranormal podcasts and TikTok compilations!

Error Message