When the Royality Hair Salon in Glenarden, Maryland closed on March 23, stylist Ebony Fenner says she didn't know what to do with herself. Fenner, who rents a booth at Royality, has been an independent stylist for 17 years.
She said it took a long time to build up a consistent clientele.
And so when all that came to a halt, she began making house calls, taking safety precautions like wearing a mask, washing her hands, and leaving her shoes and coat at the door.
“In this business, everything is coming out of our pocket. We have to pay ourselves,” she said. "I felt the need to do it is because, number one I love what I do. And two it is keeping food on the table."
On April 20, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said barbershops and salons could begin seeing clients who were essential workers.
“I, and I’m sure others, feel that we are just as essential,” said Fenner. “That you have certain standard jobs that requires them to be able to keep up with the maintenance, and haircuts, and groomings.”
Fenner is now seeing clients back in her booth at Royality Hair Salon saying, “I don’t take those clients for granted. I’m careful, I’m cautious.”
In addition to standard salon cleaning procedures, Fenner and her clients wear masks and she asks them to wash their hands when they first come into the salon.
But she said her job is more than doing hair.
“People are just opening up to you, sharing to you, being vulnerable in that space to tell you what’s going on," Fenner said. "You have to be able to show that you care.”
She said that in-person contact is really what people miss.