Work cut out for bar­bers

A new way of work­ing and a sud­den rush of clients has thank­fully kept Yo­gesh Go­van’s shop busy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - METRO - SAM SPILLER sam.spiller@inl.co.za

IT’S hair-rais­ing stakes for South Africa’s beauty sec­tor as bar­ber shops and sa­lons re­open and ad­just to new health and safety guide­lines.

For Yogi’s Bar­ber Shop on Buiten­gracht Street in Cape Town’s CBD, the re­open­ing has amounted to a new ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers and owner Yo­gesh Go­van and his team.

“We’re very thank­ful to be back,” Go­van said. “Work was phe­nom­e­nal this week be­cause there were loads of peo­ple wait­ing for a hair­cut.”

A fam­ily-run busi­ness that has been around for more than a cen­tury, Yogi’s re­opened on Mon­day, fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of the gov­ern­ment’s new health and so­cial dis­tanc­ing guide­lines.

“I came in on Satur­day. My shop hadn’t been op­er­at­ing for three months. We deep cleaned the place and then we opened on Mon­day.”

South Africa’s beauty sec­tor is the lat­est to re­open un­der re­vised level 3 lock­down reg­u­la­tions.

Pre­vi­ously able to ac­com­mo­date nine cus­tomers, the bar­ber shop now only serves three at a time. In ad­di­tion to stan­dard safety mea­sures such as hand sani­tis­ers, gloves and masks, the bar­ber shop does not use hairdry­ers or tow­els. Each sta­tion is sani­tised af­ter each client and phys­i­cal con­tact is kept to a min­i­mum. “It is a big jump, but it’s still work­ing,” Go­van said.

He said some clients took is­sue with the no mask, no en­try re­quire­ment, though pa­trons can re­move them dur­ing a cut. “Th­ese are the peo­ple who think the coro­n­avirus is a hoax,” he ex­plained. “But be­cause we’re such an old bar­ber shop with such fre­quent clients who have be­come part of the fam­ily, we un­der­stand each other. And if they don’t have a mask, I have masks for them.”

A ma­jor change has been the in­tro­duc­tion of an ap­point­ments sys­tem in ad­di­tion to the tra­di­tional walk-in ser­vice. “As much as I don’t like so­cial me­dia and web­sites – my dad never had all th­ese things, the strong­est form of ad­ver­tis­ing was word of mouth. Up un­til to­day, a bar­ber shop can still do that… we have a big clien­tele base and they’re still loyal to their bar­bers.”

An ap­point­ments sys­tem is rec­om­mended by the gov­ern­ment’s guide­lines and there are plat­forms that are help­ing lo­cal busi­nesses in­tro­duce this.

Fleeker, a web­site run by a group of UCT stu­dents, serves as a por­tal for busi­nesses to reach clients and for them to make ap­point­ments.

The idea for a web­site was one of sav­ing time.

“We hated stand­ing in long queues at our bar­ber when we could be do­ing other things with our time,” said Fleeker co-founder and UCT eco­nom­ics stu­dent, Asonele Ge­venga. “Our first web­site went live in Septem­ber 2018. It was a test­ing web­site, very ba­sic, but by the end of Oc­to­ber we had over 100 users, peo­ple who had made book­ings us­ing it. We then de­cided to build a much bet­ter web­site and we spent 2019 do­ing that.”

Fast-for­ward to 2020 and the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, Fleeker could serve an adapted, though im­por­tant pur­pose.

“We built Fleeker to help with so­cial dis­tanc­ing for beauty sa­lons and tar­get the whole of South Africa,” Ge­venga said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ge­venga, the web­site now logs more than 450 ap­point­ments and hosts 29 dif­fer­ent busi­nesses in Mow­bray and Ob­ser­va­tory, with 15 ad­di­tional ones cur­rently be­ing ver­i­fied. The group ex­pects to add a 100 more dur­ing the course of this month with an ex­pan­sion into Jo­han­nes­burg. They hope to add spas and tattoo artists to the web­site, as well as pro­duce an app for smart­phone users.

Mean­while, some Capeto­ni­ans have taken to cut­ting their own hair, such as CBD res­i­dent Nadim Nyker. “I’ve al­ways been ex­tremely pedan­tic about my hair, so it was a big step for me. It was just be­com­ing too much to han­dle so I de­cided to or­der a pair of clip­pers.”

Af­ter watch­ing videos on YouTube, Nyker felt con­fi­dent giv­ing him­self a trim. “The back can be a bit dif­fi­cult but you’ve got to have faith,” he said. “I feel bad for bar­ber shops, but I don’t want to risk be­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble and go out dur­ing the pan­demic.”

That sen­ti­ment was echoed by Edge­mead res­i­dent Me­gan El­lis, who gave her­self a trim. “I don’t want to risk un­know­ingly spread­ing it or ex­pos­ing my­self and there­fore my fam­ily to the virus,” she said.

SAM SPILLER

YOGI’S Bar­ber Shop owner Yo­gesh Go­van has had to in­tro­duce new health and safety mea­sures dur­ing level 3 of the lock­down, but he says busi­ness is on track with many Capeto­ni­ans look­ing for a hair­cut. |

YO­GESH GO­VAN

NADEEM An­drews gives Sam Spiller a trim at Yogi’s Bar­ber Shop in Cape Town. |

SAM SPILLER

CUS­TOMERS at Yogi’s Bar­ber Shop must wear a mask. |

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