When Solon business owner Chyanne Perry learned in mid-March of the potential shutdown of nonessential businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic, she wasn’t sure what the next steps would be.
“I was overwhelmed,” said Ms. Perry, 35.
A licensed massage therapist, she had opened in 2016 Spa Lavender on Station Street and enjoyed a bustling business providing everything from massage and facials to body waxing and eyelash extensions.
She poured every dime she made from working in the field into the business and grew a staff of about a dozen.
Ms. Perry said she thought of every avenue while her business grew, from the impact of competitors on sales to her location.
But “never in a million years” did she think a virus would majorly affect her business, she said.
“I’ve learned a lot in the process.”
Spa Lavender closed March 20 and reopened on June 1 with nearly half the staff.
“It was new for everyone,” she said of the shutdown. “We didn’t know what would happen with the business, with my workers and with my income.”
Ms. Perry, a mother of four, said that during the shutdown, she focused her sales to products, bolstered her email communication and worked through what was a transition of sorts.
“We had to figure out where do we go from here,” Ms. Perry said. “There was a lot of different emotions.”
She instructed her employees to apply for unemployment and was denied the first round of government supplements. Spa Lavender was eventually approved for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Small Business Administration. That allowed her to cover her expenses during the shutdown.
“It was such a big cut in income,” she said. “This allowed us to keep our workers on the payroll and restart our business without the stress.”
As a result of the continued uncertainty surrounding the virus and its impacts on her business, she started her own real estate company.
While the reopening has gone well thus far, Ms. Perry said she still carries the uncertainty involved with what the future holds.
“My thoughts now are being able to transition the business to where it needs to be,” she said.
Ms. Perry said she has struggled with some employees not coming back and that worries her. She went from a staff of 12 to eight.
To meet state mandates, appointments are now staggered so no one is crossing paths in the lobby and extreme sanitation measures are in place. Personal protective equipment is also worn at all times.
“This business was something I poured my heart into,” said Ms. Perry, a resident of Peninsula. “There are fears for the future.”
Her sales have declined since the re-opening, although this is a normal slow time for spas in general, she said.
“With COVID-19, it’s even more of a slowdown,” Ms. Perry said. She said that is because many of her elderly clients have not returned because of their fears of the virus.
“We will continue to monitor things as we transition,” she said.
Ms. Perry said she doesn’t think there would be another shutdown of nonessential businesses, “but things will get worse before they get better.
“We will just continue to do what we can,” she said. “If there is another shutdown, I am prepared. We are just very cautious with our spending.
“If there is another shut down, we have to be ready.”