Small Business COVID Impact Report Thunder Bay Roundtable

This is my letter to the Head of the Ontario NDP party and will be sharing this to many other party leaders but I want to share it with everyone too. I was invited to speak and participate at a roundtable meeting with the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce but wasn’t able to move my schedule around.

My name is Scotia Kauppi, I am the owner of Sweet Cherry Spa which has been open for 7 years. I was previously a teacher at Everest College as an esthetics instructor and still sometimes teach special effects makeup for the Esthetics Academy and Confederation College’s Conflix program. I am also on the board of directors for the Fort William BIA.

I was invited to this roundtable to present how the COVID lockdowns and restrictions effected both the personal services industry in Thunder Bay and how it has and still is affecting the Fort William Business District (BIA). I will have these 2 different reflections separated into two sections so to keep both viewpoints coherent.

I want to very much thank you for coming to Thunder Bay to hear our industries experiences as we all had a vastly different way of how COVID has affected us and continues to do so.

Section 1: COVID Restrictions and Lockdown Effects on the Thunder Bay Personal Services Industry

I am sure you are aware that the personal services industry was one of if not the hardest struck by the Ontario provincial lockdowns and COVID health guidelines.  Just for a quick go recap of what happened to us and what was expected of us:

  • We had to close down from March 21st 2020 till June 15th 2020
  • We were then required to wear masks, gloves, change aprons and scrubs between every client, time out clients out with longer cleaning times and couldn’t preform half if not all our services (depending on if you were a hair stylist, esthetician, nail tech, tattoo artist, body piercer). We also had to move around our entire salons/spas/shops, cut hours and shifts so no one could stand beside each other and add plexiglass dividers where needed.
  • Esthetic services can be performed on the face safely and responsibly, just as cosmetic nurses and doctors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, dentists and dental hygienists have been allowed to do. But we were not allowed to do so. This caused there to be many clients to become frustrated and to seek out the underground barbers, nail techs and tattoo artists who didn’t care about the rules.
  • As most of our industry closes for the winter holidays, we lost out on 2 weeks before the second lockdown started. This one was from January 1 2021 until what was supposed to be June 2nd but then the lockdown colour code changed and turned into vaccination rates, which then threw us all back into lockdown until mid-July.  If we had stayed within the colour codes that we had been following for a year prior Thunder Bay would have been in yellow of green where my industry could have been open a month earlier with full services.
  • We still had to restrict clients, services, clients and staffing up until September when restrictions eased for us. Many of us with the Proof of Vaccine (POV) must make the decision on how to schedule and book clients depending on accepting non vaccinated people or not.

I am not saying I don’t understand or personally not agree with why lockdowns were implemented but just the difference between how large operations and regular stores were allowed to operate it did feel like there was a giant unneeded target on the personal services industry. COVID19 is an air borne virus and touching and cleaning was to be implemented in stores (something that my industry especially piercing, tattoos and estheticians take extremely seriously and already have very tight regulations set for us by the Health Units) and they could operate at a percentage capacity seeing as most salons/spas operate at 1 on 1 or less than 10 people inside at a time we couldn’t still do our jobs. I know they aren’t essential for when we were in full lockdowns, but many other non-essential businesses were allowed to open before our restrictions were lifted. When talking to Health Unit inspectors they also mentioned their frustration at the requirements for personal services were heavily targeted an industry which is already high regulated in this manner.  I would like to also mention at this time there was extra frustrations between hairdressers/barbers and estheticians as estheticians are still not required to be licensed in Ontario, making a even bigger underground black market during lock down for unsafe, unclean and unregulated estheticians and nail/lash technicians.

The majority of personal service business owners and workers are women 20-45, very small operations from 1 person (such as my case) to salons/shops with staff of under 10 people. When applying for the CERB and the Ontario Small Business grants; many of our tax requirements and other information required to be submitted for applications were denied because they were too small or the data collectors on the CRA had “misread” many of them denying any benefits.  The CEBA loan from 2020 should be retrofitted to be a grant as well to cover the businesses who took it in 2020 as the government pretty much matched it in 2021 with the Ontario Small Business grant. Starting the pay back of the loan now just when CERB had just ended is extra stress on the small business owner who has a hairs thin tension of stress left ready to break.

               For Example: A local salon owner, Miss Carly Hughes (Owner of Wink Beauty Salon). She is a one-person salon. She applied and was denied her CERB the most basic finical help that was for everyone. She only THIS THURSDAY November 4th has gotten it back paid to her. She almost lost her business (and still might soon), she had to spend all her savings and take out numerous loans just to live.  When the government got back to her after 3 appeals, she was told they had “misread” her original notice of assessment. She also applied for the Ontario small business grant, was denied based on the same documents, had multiple reviews and reapplications to finally be approved for the 1st part by August but still hasn’t received the automatic second promised portion. Being told “stop calling us we will call you when its approved”. This is unacceptable.

 All these restrictions and interruptions of services were also highly amplified by many loopholes made especially for Toronto but couldn’t apply to us. Such as makeup artists and hair stylists could work on set for media productions but as that’s not a industry that we really have here no one was allowed to work (including photographers).  The selection for beauty professionals in the film and media industry is small and still many across all of Ontario have not returned to work till now.

That’s just the time and finical aspects of what was placed on us and not even to mention the impact of all of it on our families and mental health. I can’t count how many peers of mine relapsed into addictions, could not afford their medications, had to forgo dental and optometry as they are still privatized health care. No personal service workers have health coverage (of health insurance or life insurance), if they do it’s less than 1% of us: we pay for all those things out of pocket.

For Example: My story. The first lock down I was happy to have a break the first month, just like many of my peers, I do not take holidays. I work through holidays, I only get 2 days off and only 1 of them is a weekend day the other is a catch-up day (kids still must go to school, groceries, doctor appointments, etc) the finical stress of only making a 1/3 of what I normally make over the summer got to me and even getting back in the late summer, stress and depression were coming up. By the second lockdown a family members addiction came up, effected our whole family, I couldn’t afford my medication in months, and I ended up suicidal with a few attempts and in the hospital. I couldn’t even get the proper health care and had to be an outpatient because of the hospital not wanting to have “non-essential patients” in incase the COVID ward had to be increased. Then my stepmother died of COVID that was brought to her by a PSW in her nursing home because the same extremely strict rules that were applied to me…. Were not being practiced within that industry. My husband’s mental health has also deteriorated from being laid off because they couldn’t have the same manpower because of COVID staffing restrictions in his field. My kid’s mental health suffered and the school board only offered emergency counseling to kids who needed to deal with COVID lockdowns problems only in the 2020 summer and was not offered again this summer: nor was it continued after into the fall. With all this stress on me and my family, I have been back in the hospital twice and had to have crisis called on me. There is nothing in place to help with any of it.

This is just a few examples of how the government handled COVID and how it effects myself and my industry in Thunder Bay.

Section 2: The Impacts of COVID Restrictions on the Fort William Business District

The Fort William Business District is the civic and business district of Thunder Bay. We hold all City Hall offices, the Ontario Court of Justice, Thunder Bay District Social Services, Matawa Health Co-Operative, Dilico Child and Family services, St Joseph’s Care Group, PARO group and countless lawyers, doctors, social service offices and the accompanying other health, beauty, retail and food industry businesses.  Over 80 business which have all been impacted by COVID and the restrictions.

Since the first lock down approximately 95% of our businesses and offices in the area were shut down and up until now there’s still about 15% who are still not even back from working from home. We do recognize that this is the “new normal”. 

Most of the cafes, restaurants and many of the other retail stores really relied on the employees of all the offices and government offices as their core customer base. With their business able to re-open but the office workers not coming back yet; they have all suffered a big loss and dip in their standard day to day profits.

During the lockdowns the only open office in our entire area was P.A.C.E non-for-profit organization which was the city’s ONLY cooling and warming center for vulnerable and homeless people; not even the shelter house was open the whole time.  

These 2 situations of vulnerable people all congregating in one area of the whole city and not having a core of employees stabilizing the “vibe” of the street has caused massive tensions between business owners/customers and the social services offices workers/community members.  There is no doubt a very big problem with racism, classism, and “not in my back yard” mentality in our city to begin with.  The stress that COVID has put on all of us as a community unfortunately heightens these social issues to an extreme. As the vulnerable population comes to P.A.C.E to access their services (a cool/warm environment, a safe place to have a shower, food and use their internet/phone resources to keep in contact with family, friends and workers) a worse part of our population follows. Drug Dealers, gangs and pimps. They take full advantage of the stress on everyone and the fact everyone is in one place to target.  Many have moved in the area’s above business apartments, so they are close to their targets and expand their coverage of traphouses in our surrounding area (where I also live).

Once we all got back to the office at the BIA it was the first thing on our agenda. We ended up having a emergency meeting with P.A.C.E’s chair, workers, members, our board, city councilors and police representatives. We were told that there is always a shortage of funding for organizations like P.A.C.E and others such as the shelter house and Nor-West Community Health center. Why is there no extra funding for the only community help center in the whole of Thunder Bay during a pandemic? There is not enough space in any of the shelters and only 12 beds for over 1000 on waitlists for the 1 detox program we have in Thunder Bay.

We were told that there are not enough police to have street outreach, beat cops or extra drive arounds by officers. We were told at the time there was only 12 officers on duty each shift for the entire city (and most of the time all first responders are in code black). Thunder Bay has begged and asked for more funding to address the gang, drug and human trafficking that has rapidly escalated in Thunder Bay amongst already trying to restructure the police, having the Chief and board being totally replaced and having their own investigations against them. We need more help.

 What can we as a BIA do to help? Our focus has been to make our members feel safe without trying to have our community neighbours feel attacked. We have implemented a private security pilot project. We have our own privately contracted security guard who is available to all business owners during workdays and during the day they drive around and address concerns for naloxone, calling the police and first responders when needed. We are currently collecting data on how our BIA members are experiencing crime and feelings of safety with the new security presence.

We are finalizing a free security camera program for all our members as well. Many of our business owners have taken it into their own hands and have gone to personally talk to the pimps, johns and dealers. Asking them politely to not do all their business on the sidewalks Infront of everyone’s stores. Their stress in hopes to have their customers feel safe and welcomed into the area as the complaints rise is resulting in this potentially dangerous behavior that they shouldn’t ever have to do.

Trying to bring community back together in a positive way after such a long series of lockdowns the BIA has started on a new events calendar. We started with hosting a street food festival at the beginning of September 2021. Hosting street performers, local food trucks and food vendors we had about 225 people come from all around Thunder Bay and outlying areas to come enjoy the day. We plan to have more of these food fest days next summer.  We are continuing this trend with planning a large winter festival with tree lighting, lots of advertising opportunities to our members, planning snow sculptors and more.  Depending on COVID numbers and restrictions we will add more and more community activities to our events.  We are excited to be the center of the city when the Scottie’s 2022 Tournament of Hearts comes to the Fort William Gardens this January.

We have teamed up with the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce in their #ChooseTBayFirst campaign to bring a spotlight back to our area of town.  We have begun restructuring our grants/funding, branding, website and bringing in new initiatives to bring in new businesses to the area and help our current businesses to get a leg up on getting back out there.

Unfortunately, our BIA has seen a few of our members lose their business due to COVID, some new that tried to open during the pandemic and others who have been staples of our area for years. We are happy to say there many were able to stay afloat with small business grants and other initiatives such as the digital marketing grant to help them make the transition to online sales or in many of our café and restaurants cases: get onto skip the dishes. Though just as many other businesses most of our members used their grant money to just barely stay alive and not close their doors.

We are still trying to help and plan for the BIA’s future into the unknown of what will happen with the pandemic.

Section 3: What We Need for Thunder Bay and Ontario Small Businesses

There obviously is a lot that needs to be addressed with the outcomes of the CVOID funding for all citizens of Ontario post pandemic and trying to recover while still coming out of different levels of restrictions.  From this roundtable I am sure you can see that Thunder Bay has very different experience with COVID compared to other hot spots for the virus.  We in the North are extremely vulnerable to changes in mental health, social and economic stressors. I would put it that most of us feel that the Government of Ontario did not pay attention to our numbers, recommendations from the Thunder Bay Health Unit or complaints and requests for help for us and all of Northwestern Ontario.

To quickly summarize what we need going forward to help the personal services industry:

  • We need a Universal Basic Income to protect our bare necessities that doesn’t require any prior tax information to apply.
  • We need the CEBA 2020 loan to be retrofitted into a grant
  • Any small businesses who were approved for the 1st portion of the Small Business Ontario grant to automatically be given the 2nd promised portion now.
  • Dental and Optometry health services need to be socialized for all ages
  • Drug coverage for mental health and essential prescriptions should be free with just a small dispensing fee for adult Ontarians.
  • The esthetics industry needs to be licensed to keep all services and clients safe.
  • The government of Ontario needs to reassess the rankings and restrictions put on different industries based on prequalifying health codes they must already follow.

As a representative for the Fort William BIA, where because of our location we see the deepest and darkest struggles of our community; I believe that the Ontario Government needs to push mandates for:

  • Thunder Bay social services and non-profit organizations need a great deal more funding for basic care services, shelters, tiny homes projects and housing, mental health services and detox facilities.
  • We need more mental health services to be accessible for everyone.
  • Thunder Bay police need more funding and help to address the explosion of gang, drug and human trafficking in the city. This needs to include funding for more street outreach programing to keep business areas safe for everyone community, customers and business owners.
  • Again, a Universal basic Income to make sure that all our small business owners do not have to choose home over business and give up an entire career and life just to keep the lights on at home.

I sincerely thank you so much for your time and hope to see a brighter future for everyone in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Canada.

Scotia Kauppi

Owner Sweet Cherry Spa, Fort William BIA Board of Directors

703 Victoria Ave E

Thunder Bay Ontario P7C 5X9

scotiamua@gmail.com

(807)251-2891

I Have Moved!

Let’s start 2021 off with a big move! With the decision in fall 2020 that Victoriaville Center will be demolished starting in spring 2022; I decided to just find a new location now while there are lots of available spaces, so I don’t have to rush and also to avoid a year’s worth of anxiety about having to find a new location. Luckily I found the spa’s new home not far (just down the street) from where I was in the Chapel’s Building. Once the center comes down I will be street side, with easy parking and walking options available.

The space is bigger and has a less cramped feeling and for me has more amenities to keep everything onsite clean and safe. I am very excited to share this new space with you!

The Impact of No Shows

Lately I’ve notcied a lot more no show clients; clients who don’t call to say they aren’t coming. This is a very common but rude thing to do to a stylist.

You may just think that its not a big deal, but did you know when you don’t call us you don’t just leave us hanging?

WASTED TIME: You’ve wasted my time. I am left here sitting waiting for possibly hour. I might be lucky and can move my next clients up or on the very rarest of times I can get a walk in. First thing clients too means that I could of not needed a sitter in the morning, or didn’t have to rush out of the house, could of kept the dogs out of their crate longer. Just the little family things that make a day better. I schedule my life around you. So maybe I could of had a earlier doctor’s appointment.

You’ve also possibly wasted someone else’s time. If they needed that time and it only worked for them. Now they have to wait or not get their services done.

MISSED INCOME: That’s time I’m not getting any income and for people who no show multiple services: that’s 100s of dollars gone and a walk in brow wax that cost 15$ won’t make it right.

WASTED PRODUCT: I set up before my clients come in. That means if you skip out on a pedicure = I have your foot soak with product waiting and ready. With COVID precautions that’s even more wasted product because I now have to re sanitize anything I’ve taken out.

Please next time just call and say you can’t make it, even if you are already late. Make sure to call some emails and text messages from spas and salons are automated messages and don’t actually get any replies. Most do say [NO REPLY] in them.

COVID 19 UPDATE: I’M BACK!!!!!!!

You won’t be able to see how big my smile is because of my mask but holy hell I am so happy!

I will be reopening my doors now that phase 2 has started on Monday June 15th. Here are the protocols that I am going to be following for you to look at.

I am contacting all who pre-paid and got their booking codes first and then I will be open to everyone else waiting for their appointment. Please be patient.

Here are a few important changes that will be made for now:

Reduced hours:

I will be working Monday- saturday from 10am till 3. I have to get back on track with anxiety and sleep and on top of which getting my kids off to their sitters for the day on the days my husband is working days. I can’t provide evenings just yet as the mall is still going to be under restricted hours as well. These hours will be in effect until September when the kids go back to school.

By Appointment only:

I have always kinda been this way but now the mall isn’t letting people without an appointment in to wander around and I need structured cleaning times to sufficiently prepare for the next client. This also means that no guests will be allowed in as well, no kids or partners or friends. Which also means no deals for mother/daughter or friends spa days will be available right now.

The doors to the mall are going to be restricted as well with security making sure everyone is just coming in only for appointments. 2 entrances will be open with security which is the MacKeller entrance next to Renco foods and the Patio entrance off of Justice ave (where Unveiled Bridal and Giorge’s restaurant are). I believe that the ticketing for Centennial Square is suspended but I will update that as soon as I know.

Reduced Services = No facial services:

Because everything is about face, face, face right now I can’t help you with yours at the moment. This means that no brow, lip, chin or face waxing; no facials or skin care treatments; no eyelash or brow tinting; no lash extensions and no makeup services can be preformed. This unfortunately also means that I can not be available for bridal day of makeup but I can still do your nails and waxing.

Masks are Mandatory:

I will require everyone to wear a mask (cloth or medical disposable) while they attend their service.  If you do not have a mask, I will have masks for use by clients that you can place in the laundry when you leave.

I will be wearing my mask and gloves for all services.

Hand washing is Mandatory:

Once you come in before anything I will need you to come and wash your hands.  I will also to ask you to keep your phone in your pocket/purse and any photos for reference for nail art I ask that you please send/text to me before your appointment.

New No Show Fee: 

Due to the long wait list and strictly managed booking times to be able to fit in proper infection control cleaning. If you miss your appointment without contacting me your rebooking fee will be 15$

Thank you so much for all your support!!!!  Stay Safe, Smart and Sweet!

Exclusive Sweet Cherry Merch

I was thinking of doing this before the quarantine but now it seems like its almost my only option for the time being. I made all my merch available online and added new items!

I was getting feedback from everyone that they’d like to see more styles in men’s and larger sizes with different colour options! SOOOOOOO I did that! I also made mugs and a limited time only shirt featuring art from my most recent vampire dinner party photoshoot!

 

and now this limited time only print is available!!!

Click now or above on the tab SHOP to check out all I got up, like and share!!!

How Do I Take Care of My Self During Self isolation?

So many of you have just squeezed in your last appointments before the total shut down of non essential services . We have all seen this meme and laughed at how true it is.

So what can you do to keep up your beauty routine and make what services you just got last you? or how to deal with grow outs if you can’t get in. Also I loaded this with extra memes to brighten up your day!!

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Nail Sprains…..Yes They Hurt!

Ever just go to grab your car door handle and your hand slips just enough to bang your nail…and it hurts soo much!?

No you’re not being  whimp. Nail sprains are very common and they can cause tons of damage.

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How Young Is Too Young for Nails?

I have lately been getting many younger girls coming and booking appointments online for acrylic or gel nails.  Getting nails is a big step for young ladies and social media makes it seem so normal that tweens think: ‘No big deal”. But they are.

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Transitioning Beauty

This week is PRIDE MONTH!! As a cis-bisexual ally I love celebrating pride and meeting new people. I get to talk to many different people going through different transitions (coming out, speaking up or starting a full medical transition). I thought that this year I will officially share what I can do to help professionally on here.

In the past few years I have become very accustomed to talking and helping transitioning clients with figuring out new beauty and health routines. I am no medical expert and can only go by what feels right for each client.

But in lieu of people asking the difference between a men’s pedicure or a men’s leg wax than a woman’s: I say there’s none. Hair coming out of skin and nails growing aren’t much different between men and women.

I want to share some very basic information about this process. I am not a doctor but having guided research from great places like Elevate and Thunder Pride and talking with trans clients, friends and their families. This is just speaking from a professional esthetician and makeup artist.

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DIY Lip Plumping Scrub

if you missed the Your Best Face Forward Workshop 

 

Guests of Plan Your Day Thunder Bay 2019 made their own lip scrubs hosted by Scotia Kauppi of Sweet Cherry Spa & Carly Hughes of Wink Beauty Studio. 

 

Cinnamon Lip Scrub + Plumper 

Why This Works Cinnamon is a natural lip plumper, so if you want that Kylie Jenner pout without the lip injections, this scrub is a foolproof technique to achieve that. Cinnamon also acts as a natural exfoliator and helps you achieve smooth, soft lips instantly. 

 

 

We Talked About….
  • How to prep your skin prior to your wedding so that your makeup will last longer, not budge or flake off.
  • 2 weeks before your wedding do not try any new products, spray tans, or tanning beds. 
  • If you have dry cracked lips, brush your lips with hot water on a softer toothbrush after your brush your teeth nightly. 
  • If you have problematic skin, have a facial/skin care consult with an esthetician a month or two before. 

 

Why a Makeup Trial is Important 
  • To test out their products to make sure they work with your skin type. 
  • To get to know your artist and make sure you are both comfortable with eachother 
  • To test out your ideas of how you’d like to look 
  • When trying a new trend of makeup if you think it will reflect your timeless natural beauty or reflect your style and personality (Blushing Bride or Sultry/ Smokey Evening looks or Themed makeup for a Themed wedding) 
  • When to have the trial done 2 weeks – a month before ie: don’t have your trial in the winter if you are getting married in the summer. Your skin tone will not be the right shade and will mess up your contouring and foundation shade.