Betty Rae Wiant has been a licensed cosmetologist for the past 38 years, perhaps none have been as challenging as the past three months
VANCOUVER — It didn’t take long for Betty Rae Wiant to get the news that Clark County had been approved to move ahead to Phase 2 of the state’s Stay Safe reopening plan.
“I was actually showering when my phone began to blow up Friday morning,’’ said Wiant, a Vancouver hairdresser who had been unable to work for nearly three months due to stay-at-home orders associated with the coronavirus pandemic. “The minute Phase 2 had been announced and Clark county was now open, clients began texting and calling … I thought the world was coming to an end, seriously.
“Instead, the phone was ringing with happy clients wanting to book an appointment and congratulating me, wanting to know if I was going to work in 10 minutes,’’ Wiant said.
Wiant has been a licensed cosmetologist for the past 38 years, including the last six at Seasons Spa and Salon in Vancouver. She saw her first client in Phase 2 on Sunday.
“My first official client entered the salon today with a mask, and a three-inch grow out,’’ Wiant said. “She told me proudly, ‘I never even touched my bangs.’ All went extremely well. She and I were very happy indeed. Life is good.’’
Life wasn’t always good during the closure. Like most self-employed Clark County residents, she experienced a myriad of emotions and unknowns about when she was going to be able to go back to work.
“The closure was heartbreaking,’’ Wiant said. “As a stylist, I did feel the closure was necessary at first to protect my clients as well as myself. However, being self employed and being deemed unessential after 40 years of being in business was very hurtful. What was it going to mean for me, my clients and my business and what was I going to do for income? I had no idea.’’
Wiant said she didn’t receive any unemployment benefits or assistance funding until just a week before she was allowed to reopen her business.
“I was not allowed to apply for COVID-19 assistance till mid April,’’ Wiant said. “Unemployment was a nightmare, 5,000 phone calls plus into unemployment, hours upon hours on the phone was depressing and disheartening. In the end, I had zero income for three months. I was finally funded one week ago. Honestly, it was a nightmare, but things are better now.’’
Things are better now, but they’re obviously not the same.
“I was elated, yet scared,’’ said Wiant about the news that she was now able to go back to work. “I am very fortunate, having my own studio is wonderful. It’s going to be very easy to comply with the state’s demands. Sanitation and safety is essential and has always been a top priority in my profession. I had just received 100 percent (compliance) from the state board three weeks earlier. The extra precautions for my clients are easy to follow.’’
A complete list of the state’s Phase 2 Personal Services COVID-19 requirements can be found here:
“Clients are asked to stay in their cars until I text them to meet me at the door,’’ Wiant said. “They are to wear a mask, or are given one when I meet them in person at the door. They will have their temperature taken and will have to sign a waiver. Then, they will be taken back to my studio, which has been disinfected between each and every client. I even installed an air purifier that eliminates many types of bacteria and cleanses the air. Alcohol, disinfectant, hand sanitizer and extra capes are readily available.’’
To contact Betty Rae Wiant, visit Seasons Spa and Salon at 603 SE 116th Ave., in Vancouver, or call (360) 513-6321.