As the personal care sector reopened yesterday, a visit to several businesses in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, provided lessons in entrepreneurial diversification, a high tolerance for risk and economic resiliance.
Carla Thomas, owner of La Casa de Creative, a full-service spa opposite Victoria Square, took over the business from Antoinette Maund, who left to focus on her retail franchise Ate Logo and other projects.
Maund said she no longer wanted to deal with the stress of managing such a business with the uncertainty the pandemic brought to the industry.
“I don’t see it getting better soon. I believe it will get better but I believe it will get worse first,” Maund said.
She believes riding this uncertain path is for people like Thomas.
Thomas already has a salon in Trincity Mall. She said she survived the total lockdown of personal care businesses by planning ahead and focusing on her beauty products.
She sells press-on nails and a variety of spa supplies. Her products were sold in stores across the country but she also included an ‘E-tail’ store, where customers could order products and have them delivered to their door via TTPost.
She had a more optimistic outlook.
“At the end of the day, my colleagues have to know, women will always see about themselves,” Thomas said.
Carlos Barrios, owner of the Gentlemen’s Club on Ariapita Avenue, also took a risk by starting his business during the pandemic. He remains cautiously hopeful but said with many social activities barred from taking place, he knows that can have a negative impact on the number of people seeking his services.
Owner of the Candice Mohan Salon, Candice Mohan, agreed.
Mohan offers styling services and often works with the entertainment and advertising industry.
Now, business has dried up and the public health restrictions on the number of people allowed inside enclosed spaces mean she is simply not allowed to serve as many customers as she used to during her peak.
“Now, it’s one on one appointments, myself and an assistant,” she said.
Speaking to CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, chairman of the Beauty Services Association Donald Thomas said they were created to help members navigate the pandemic.
Thomas said too many people are operating unregulated businesses and are therefore unable to access Government grants. He called on the Government to do more to assist his members.
Thomas insisted they do not want handouts but want to work and suggested that some sort of payment plan be put in place so that members can still start working to pay off their debts without fear of losing their stores or utility services.
Barrios agreed, hoping that the Government sees a reason to ease up the existing restrictions even further. But until then, he said he and his colleagues are simply grateful to be back in business.