LIMA — Heather has her hands full.
The mother of four children under the age of 6 has help from her mother and the father of the children, but balancing childcare needs, a job and COVID-19 has been extremely difficult.
“At the beginning of the year, I did do hair in a salon, but I started working from home,” said Heather, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy.
The salon required booth rent and a certain number of hours. She said she weighed the pros and cons of the situation and decided to do hair out of her home. That reduced expenses and the need for childcare. Her car broke down, too, so transportation was another issue on a growing list.
Issues aside, Heather really enjoys being a stylist.
“I like the client’s reaction,” she said. “It makes people feel good when they first get their hair done. It makes the work more rewarding.”
What she didn’t see coming was the pandemic.
In the beginning of the pandemic especially, her potential clients were not sure getting their hair done was worth the risk. She would travel to them, but sometimes that didn’t make a difference.
“People don’t want to come in contact with people,” she said. To do hair, “I come in contact with a lot of people, so people are kind of skeptical.”
Even outside of a salon setting, with clients coming to her, people were a little nervous.
“If I have a client (and) they bring their kid, that’s like another extra person,” she said. “And then another client shows up and like, ‘I don’t know, it’s like too many people here.’”
Two of Heather’s children have asthma, which weighs on her.
“When COVID came about, I basically had to stop (doing hair) because I have four kids and I try my hardest … so they don’t get sick. I try to keep them away from other people,” she said.
Some of her clients chose to go with simpler styles that don’t need as much professional maintenance, and some simply could no longer afford her services.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “A lot of people really haven’t had the money to get their hair done. … It’s changed everything. A lot of my clients lost their jobs, (or) they’re close to losing their jobs because they don’t have daycare.”
The unemployment system is not working well, she said, explaining that many people she knows have been removed from the rolls or even owe money back after the state began doublechecking its computer system. She believes much of it is unfair. She personally has had trouble, she said, and she’s working to get her identity cleared up with the proper documents.
“So now I’m kind of like stuck, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do,” she said. “And now Christmas is coming up.”
Her 6-year-old girl wears size 7 in clothing and size 13 or 1 in shoes. She is very creative, enjoying drawing and crafts, music and dancing.
Her 5-year-old girl wears size 4T in clothing and size 9 in shoes. She would love dress-up clothes, play makeup and jewelry, or gymnastics gear.
Her 4-year-old boy wears size 4T in clothing and size 9 in shoes. He likes robots, cars and superheroes.
Her 2-year-old boy wears size 2T in clothing and size 5 in shoes. He is a typical toddler, enjoying blocks and push cars.
Reach Adrienne McGee Sterrett at 567-242-0510.