Coronavirus leaves the self-employed in Cardiff faced with challenges during the lockdown

While social contact needs distance with each other, what can a hairdressing shop owner do to overcome the difficulties?

The closed hairdressing store. Image: Flickr

After implementing the hand sanitizer for regular use and limiting the number of customers in the store, the owner of Hair Affairs Salon, Chika Okeke, was still anxious about not preparing enough for the precautions.

“I felt I was taking a risk against my safety as well as the customers’ safety.”

It was just a few days before the lockdown and the pattern of people’s lifestyle seems to change completely during the global pandemic. While we are worrying about the little issue in our normal daily life, Chika is facing an unprecedented circumstance in her career.

Chika misses the working days very much.

Normally, Chika could have at least two appointments daily and work five days a week, but now everything is different.

“Since the lockdown, it’s a massive challenge because there isn’t anything I can do but wait for government restrictions to change. I have lost all income from my business due to the lockdown.”

Chika, a single mother of two, immigrated from Nigeria. She has been living in the UK for 17 years and has owned her salon business in Cardiff since 2016.

“When I came to the UK, finding a salon for my hair type was challenging. That actually inspired me to consider hairdressing as a profession.”

The process of starting up a business is not easy. However, Chika finds her own advantages and keeps learning advanced professional skills.

“I had basic skills in braids back then, but I wanted more skills in hairdressing mainly for lady’s haircuts, so I got motivated to study it and enrolled in college and get qualified professionally,” said she.

“Starting my own business is my greatest achievement at the moment. When I look at how far it’s been developing, I am proud of all efforts.”

Chika finds her own advantages in the hairdressing industry.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chika has to temporality close her business.

“I remember the days before the lockdown when I opened the salon, I felt I was taking a risk against my safety as well as for the customers.”

According to the dataset from the Office for National Statistics in 2019, there are up to 82,000 people are self-employed in Cardiff, which accounts for 11.4% of the employment.

To help the self-employed survive the unpredicted economic recession, the government has implemented the Self-employment Income Support Scheme by paying 80% of the wages to the eligible business along with a tax return.

However, 3% of all self-employed in the UK may not eligible for the scheme bacause their business is founded after April 2019.

Luckily, Chika has no worries about this issue, but she has to wait for the payment from the government, which would not be initiated until the beginning of June.

On 30 April, the prime minister, Boris Johnson said the UK has passed the peak of the coronavirus outbreak and the economy is likely to restart soon.

Hoping the life could back to normal, Chika also encourages her customers to be patient and try simple ways of maintaining their hairs at home.

“I really miss my days at the salon because it’s not just doing hair but it’s a great opportunity of meeting great people each time and making them really happy at the end of hair services provided.”