Towards reimagining livelihoods of beauticians


While putting together thought-starters in the ongoing series on “Reimagining Livelihoods of Beauticians”, I have had some interesting conversations with those who are leading it from the front. Hence, it is only fair to weave these insights in an article and share them with the larger universe.

Vision 2020 and beyond for beauty providers by industry stalwart – Dr. Blossom Kochhar

Beautician as a one-stop service provider

Unlike what we are used to when we step into salons – one person working on our hair, one doing a pedicure, someone else for waxing, now clients will prefer to have all the services taken care of by one individual.

Dr. Blossom Kochhar reiterates, “there is going to be a shift back from specialised skills to holistic learning and beauty professionals will have to be competent to provide multiple services. Hence, multi-skilling of beauty and wellness professionals will be in demand”.

Need to integrate apprenticeship

There is no escaping from online learning and it is being adopted in a big way across industries. For the new-age learners entering the industry, the blended learning approach with an apprenticeship to provide them avenues to practice their skills will become important.  

“We have already transitioned into this mode where our students working as apprentices in salons are being guided by trainers while following social distancing norms. I see the industry opening its arms and offering such opportunities” shares Dr. Kochhar.

Towards reimagining livelihoods of beauticiansCluster approach to support small beauty enterprises and freelancers

“It is even more difficult now for most small businesses to support dual spends like rentals for homes and salons. Hence, innovative offerings like forming a cluster of beauty and wellness service professionals for each locality and providing common spaces to operate are possible solutions and causes worth supporting” says Dr. Kochhar.

Some have already started collaborating together, sharing rentals, and operating a sort of a complete salon, where it is not just customers who come and go on the basis of appointment, but also the service providers also do so!

“Home Services, On-Demand” in Demand!

Increased demand for ‘at home’ Beauty and Grooming services has kept Urban Company (UC) team busier in onboarding service professionals, especially beauticians and barbers. In Delhi-NCR alone UC has hired over 1,000 professionals over the last two months and has plans to onboard 10,000 professionals over the course of the year.

UC collects safety as separate feedback from quality ratings. Their training Head, Disha Meher shares, “Our safety initiatives have resonated well with partners and customers. For the month of June, customers rated us 4.96 out of 5 on safety. Despite business activity being the lowest ever, our service partner NPS was the highest in April (72%) and May (65%). This is also due to the safety processes implemented”. 

The key safety protocols put in place by Urban Company are:

  1. Free PPE Kits: Provided to all UC partners to keep themselves and customers protected. In the case of beauty and grooming services, body covers are also provided.

Audit mechanism: Before the start of each job, the partner takes a selfie of themselves and their set-up in the PPE. For the same, Facial detection software’s integration with Microsoft has been repurposed.

  1. Mandatory use of the Aarogya Setu app: Service partners are advised to display their health status on the Aarogya Setu app to the customer before starting a service.
  2. Daily temperature checks: All service partners perform a daily temperature check and if it is above 99ŸF or they have any symptoms, they are asked to self-quarantine. Free doctor consultation and COVID-19 testing are provided by UC, if needed along with free COVID-19 insurance till Jul 2021.

Audit mechanism: A combination of technology and manual video call-based audits are used.

  1. Health and Safety Training: UC has rolled out a mandatory 7-day, online health, and safety training program towards COVID behaviors with internationally prescribed standards and as per the recommendation of Indian authorities like Health Ministry and Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council (BWSSC). All partners need to satisfactorily complete the test before resuming work on the platform.

It’s time for collaborations

Harnessing the power of social media, Dr. Rekha Chaudhari, Founder, and MD, Oneline Wellness, has been advocating this message through her Parasmani Mission campaign. She says, “Become a Parasmani, a Philosopher’s Stone and be a part of our collective mission. Touch as many lives individually and spread the right knowledge for physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.” Over 50,000 people through 250+ WhatsApp groups, majorly in the beauty industry, have been touched through this mission.

As a Governing Council member of the BWSSC, Dr. Rekha has also played a key role in getting together the industry leaders and jointly putting forward their concerns and challenges with respect to livelihoods during the lockdown phases to the concerned authorities. A key outcome of this effort was the re-opening of the industry.

Related Article: Makeover for Beauty and wellness sector post-COVID-19 – Read More:

“Accountability breeds response-ability” – Stephen Covey

“In today’s times even if one beauty professional makes a mistake, it can have an adverse impact on the entire industry so everyone has to take accountability for themselves and their customers”, says Uday Takke, Director, U Takke’s Institute of Hair and Skin and Coordinator for Barbers Association in India.

Everyone has to adapt and have an open mind. Uday further adds, “Changes do not happen overnight but we have to keep trying and motivating others in our network to include new behaviors and practice all the guidelines while servicing clients. हमें फिर से पढ़ना होगा और सभी को बताना होगा, तभी हम client का विश्वास पा सकते हैं” (we will need to re-learn and share our knowledge and skills with others in the industry as well. Only then will we earn the trust of our clients).

Guest Author: Nalini Kaushal, Founder, SetuWorks in collaboration with Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan, Chairperson, LabourNet 

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