Local salon rallies to rebound, reopen


By Aliyah DePersio, Staff Writer

March 20th, 2020, was a date that changed everything. On this day Illinois announced their stay-at- home order, effectively shutting down almost everything. For large corporations this was just a small hiccup. However for small businesses, this could make or break them.

Salon Mackk is a local salon in Crystal Lake. They opened their doors in May of 2009, and they have been going strong since. It’s owned by four hard working women: Melinda Thomas, Andie Smith, Karin Jackowiak and Kristen Shipley. Together the quartet employs ten talented stylists. I work for this amazing team, and they shared how the pandemic affected them, their stylists, and their business.

During such a stressful time, it is no shock that many small businesses had to close their doors. According to The Wall Street Journal, “the pandemic resulted in the permanent closure of roughly 200,000 U.S. establishments,” in the year 2020. All those closures, yet this salon beat those odds.

Luckily the salon owners had some money saved away for a rainy day, or in this case a global pandemic. Government assistance also played a role in helping the salon through the tough times. The owners said they were able to receive two small business loans. They worked closely with the bank in order to use the loans wisely, and to the fullest. These loans also helped them be able to help their staff. A portion of the loan had to go towards paying their employees. The owners decided to average their staff’s largest paycheck to maximize the loan use, and help out their employees. And when they couldn’t pay them, they helped in other ways.

“They walked us through the process of collecting unemployment,” Kelsey Davenport, a stylist at the salon, said. This was done during one of their many zoom calls with staff.

The owners tried to be there for their stylists as much as possible, “even though we were freaking out,” said Jackowiak, one of the owners. They held zoom meetings with their staff, mostly to just check in on everyone. They really relied on one another to make it through. It was definitely a team effort. This is probably why a lot of staff chose to come back when they were able to hire people back. They had to let them go, as they couldn’t employ them while shut down. The stylists weren’t seen as staff, but more like family. Even though the owners had to have a strong front, they could still lean on their stylists.

The salon had also just moved into a new location when the shutdown hit. This added on more stress for the owners. Luckily, their new landlord worked with them on paying rent during the lockdown. They also still had their first location as well as the new one. While this was stressful, it was also seen as a blessing in disguise when the salon reopened. This new location was supposed to be a sign of growth for the salon; they wanted to start expanding. Covid hitting stalled these plans for the time being. It wasn’t just the salon whose growth was stunted, but also their stylists. They couldn’t expand their clientele or gain more experience during the shutdown.

When the time came to reopen, having two salons was a great solution to new guidelines. Covid guidelines gave buildings a maximum capacity. Since Salon Mackk had two locations they could split their staff between them. This allowed things to run more smoothly for the stylists and their clients.

When it came to following the guidelines, the salon had no problem in the other areas. Sanitation was heavily going on before the pandemic, so there was no new transition. The owners were also very much on their stylist’ sides, and made sure they were safe and comfortable. And the clients felt safe and comfortable as well. Many clients returned when they first reopened, and many are still returning now.

A global pandemic is a hard thing to navigate. It’s even harder to navigate when you’re a small business. While many had to close their doors, Salon Mackk was able to keep theirs wide open. This was due to the relentless work of Salon Mackk’s four owners. And, of course, through the support of their amazing team of stylists. Also we can’t forget the strong, loyal base of clientele. It’s no surprise that people keep coming back to a place where everyone is treated like family. Now that they’ve made it through a rough patch it’ll be interesting to see how they grow from here.