“Since the lockdown, I couldn’t pay rent for my booth…” Day in the life of a nails technician

“[…] Since the lockdown, I have had two clients last week, and the week before I had one client. I have not received any calls for appointments this week. Before Covid, I would get four clients a day, give or take…”

Just when Trinbagonians thought that we were ‘marked safe’ from Covid-19, the virus made sure we did not feel left out by making its appearance here in our lovely twin island. As cases increased, our government sprang into action by implementing a lockdown of epic proportionsin an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

If the government did not deem you to be an essential worker, then you had to close the doors of your business, work from home if possible and wait for things to return to some semblance of normalcy.

Some businesses managed to get back on their feet post-lockdown but this has not been the case for many other establishments. Today Wired868 features Denise, a 41-year-old nail technician from Arima, who has felt the severe effects of Covid-19 as a small business owner:

How has Covid-19 affected your personal life?

I am more of an occasional ‘limer’, so Covid did not affect me much when it came to socialising. I do belong to an aerobics class which I attended every day. The aerobics classes are now online.

Do you have children?

I have three kids; two are dependants.

What adjustments have you had to make?

I have not had much work since the pandemic. I had to adjust my lifestyle. I cannot do the things I used to do, like budget properly and be involved in a sou-sou. When I go to the grocery, I can only buy the necessities. I have to cook less meals and make sandwiches for the kids as in-between meals so that the food can stretch.

Photo: Some of the handiwork of Denise’s Nail by Design company.

How has Covid-19 affected your professional life?

Since the lockdown, I was unable to pay the rent for the booth I operated from in Port of Spain. I had no choice but to move out and operate from home. Working from home is like starting over and getting new clients. My clients are from different parts of Trinidad. When I rented the booth in Port of Spain, it was more convenient for themas opposed to now that I am home in Arima.

Since the lockdown, I have had two clients last week, and the week before I had one client. I have not received any calls for appointments this week. Before Covid, I would get four clients a day, give or take.

Do you feel safe bringing clients home?

At the start of the pandemic, when I operated from the booth, I would make sure that no one entered my space without wearing a mask and sanitising. I will also be sure to do the same. Now that I am operating from home, I only service clients I am familiar with, so there is a level of trust. Because I am working from home and I have kids, I would not bring strangers home. I do not encourage liming when clients are finished with their service.

How does home schooling affect your work?

I have not experienced that as yet. What I normally do is I let my clients know that they (the children) are doing work between the hours of eight and two thirty. So If they would like to make an appointment they can make one after those hours. I would not allow them to come while the children have school.

Image: A satirical view on Covid-19 and the economy.
(Copyright Chappatte.com)

Describe preparing your station for a client.

Everybody who comes to my home, they have to wear a mask and they have to sanitise. I make sure and I keep a bottle of sanitiser (sweet disinfectant cleaner) and I keep wiping the tableI wipe everything that they touch.  I will not bring two and three persons at a time. I also space out my clients so that will give me sufficient time to clean when someone leaves. The hardest thing is keeping my children away from the clients.

Do you keep a comprehensive list of persons who visit your business in the event that contact tracing has to be done?

To be honest with you, since I have been working from home I have not had that many clients to keep a list.

Have you had any challenges sourcing supplies for your business?

To some extent. For example I was low on acrylic liquid and I could not find any to purchase. One store was out of stock and the other store closed during the lockdown and they have not reopened.

Photo: Nails by Design.

What steps have you taken to boost your business?

I have a lot of specials to attract my faithful clients via WhatsApp. I am not comfortable taking on any new clients at this time. When things pick up, I plan to rent a station in the east.

Do you have an alternative means of income?


How has it been for you adapting to the new normal?

It’s a bit stressful but at the end of the day I’m trying not to let it affect me too much. If it affects me it will affect the kids.

What most frustrates you about life in the Covid-19 pandemic?

The uncertainty for the future, especially for the kidsnot so much me. If anything happens to me, their father is there yes, but I am the more active parent. I don’t stress over the situation. I just do what I have to do and I know we will get over it.

Image: A satirical take on life after Covid-19.
(Copyright Dave Grandlund)

Are there any positives that have come out of life in a pandemic?

One of the positives that came out of this pandemic is that I am home to help the kids, especially the youngest, with their school work. The only other thing I can consider a plus is that I get to spend more time with the kidsI can interact with them more. Normally I would leave home to go to work in Port of Spain and return home late.

What advice would you give to other persons in the beauty industry who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?

Now is not the best time to pay rent for a station. If you can work from home do something from home. If you make $100, you are sure it’s yours. When you are working outside and you have a rent to pay, the $100 is not yours. Try doing house calls, expose yourself on the different social media outlets. If you pay a rent, you will be working at a loss.

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About Avanelle Boyce

Avanelle Boyce
Avanelle Boyce is an intern at Wired868 who is currently pursuing her BA in Mass Communications at COSTAATT. She enjoys photography, writing, blogging and any activity that involves tapping into her creative side.

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