After the second Covid-spurned shutdown of personal care services such as salons, barbers, massage and nail parlors, new state guidelines were issued on July 22 allowing local agencies to permit some of these services in outdoor spaces.
Yudith Alcarez, owner of Yudith Salon on Carpinteria Avenue, said she submitted an application the day after the governor’s announcement but is still waiting for the go ahead from the city of Carpinteria. Before Covid-19, Alcarez’ phone rang all day and business was good for her and all five of the stylists who rent chairs in her salon, she said. Now, she hopes that she will be able to have at least one chair outside to cut hair. She hopes the outdoor permit will help her offset the business’ fixed costs, such as rent and utilities. Alcarez also spent money in modifying the salon to comply with the partial reopening standards issued in May, prior to the most recent closure at the beginning of July.
In addition to the financial losses, Alcarez has struggled emotionally to cope with the changing circumstances brought on by Covid-19. “It’s been very hard,” said Alcarez, “I’m all by myself. I rent the chairs, but I’m the responsible one. My clients and family tell me, ‘Just focus on you and try to relax.’ But it’s very hard to relax when you are in this situation, especially when you are the responsible one receiving all the bills. I haven’t been able to relax since March. So, when they closed us the second time, I thought, ‘Oh my god, what’s going to happen now?’”
When two businesses less than a block away in both directions of Yudith Salon—Coffee Bean & Tealeaf and Crushcake’s Café—shuttered permanently during the pandemic, Alcarez knew she wasn’t the only one struggling, but she wasn’t ready to give up.
“Seeing businesses gone has been very hard,” said Alcarez, “It’s a survival moment and I’m going to do whatever I can. . . It’s either you sit and cry or you just keep working to make it happen. Through all these moments, I think about how this salon is not only 15 years of work, its longer than that—it’s my life’s dream. I’ve been working my whole life to accomplish this.”
Surviving the pandemic won’t be easy for Alcarez, who said she now owes a large amount of money in back rent. Alcarez said the city of Carpinteria is supporting her in her fight to stay in business by forgiving her business license and parking fees, and granting her $1,000 through the Restart Program. “Every time I call Dave Durflinger the city manager, and Mimi Audelo, (they) always help as much as they can.”
To help cover her costs and keep her salon in business, Alcarez has started a fundraiser. To donate, visit gofundme.com and search for “Yudith Salon.”