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Adapting and Thriving: My Personal Experience During the Pandemic

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

At the start of 2020, it was looking very promising for me. I had lots of weddings booked in and I was super excited to get going. I am so lucky that I am one of the people who get to do a job they really enjoy and love.

"February unfortunately started badly"

The wedding season is generally March to September, but I already had three weddings booked in January, and two in February. It was looking to be my busiest year yet! February unfortunately started badly as my little fur baby was put down after 10 years, then Storm Dennis blew down our 80ft walnut tree and wrote off both mine and my husband’s cars! By the end of February the word was beginning to spread about Coronavirus but nothing really had happened just yet. I am part of an online hair and makeup academy with artists all over the world, and a few of the girls had said weddings were starting to be cancelled. I felt shocked for them but never in a million years thought it would happen in the UK. Then March hit and things dramatically changed!

We had a family week away at Centre Parcs with friends, and whilst there received the news from Boris about the impending lockdown. I, like may others, had been following the pandemic updates here and there but I didn’t realise the seriousness of it until then. By that time, we were already socially distancing and sanitising our hands but apart from that things seemed to be carrying on as normal.

I had a wedding the Friday that we left Centre Parcs and the bride was really upset that quite a few of her guests decided not to come. Then on the Saturday I had my last wedding before lockdown. This is when it really hit me as the bride only had the ceremony, no reception, as the venue had cancelled on her the day before! Then penny really dropped that things were going to be quite different for a little while.

"I didn’t receive any help with my loss of earnings"

The next few months were a blur of emails between my brides and I, discussing postponed dates, advice flying here and there between industry colleagues and many tears about the uncertainty of the next few months. Unfortunately, due to the fact I was on maternity leave during one of the financial years required for the government self employed scheme, I didn’t receive any help with my loss of earnings. To say things were tight was a bit of an understatement! They joy of being self-employed I guess! Many of us were in the same boat and the academy was a great place for venting, inspiration, and general support. One of the tutors took it upon herself to do online hair styling tutorials so I bit the bullet and got a £180 fake hair head to keep the creative juices flowing! This really helped to keep my passion for the industry growing. It was fast becoming the longest I hadn’t done hair and makeup for. Even when I was heavily pregnant and on maternity leave, I still worked.

"I decided to have a re-brand of my business and a new website created!"

Then one day I decided to have a re brand of my business and a new website created! Not things I would normally have had time to put into place, but it was the best decision I made! I started putting more effort into my social media accounts and really pushed myself to create more content for potential new brides.

July came and things started to ease off a bit for the wedding industry. My first wedding back was 20th July but I was only allowed to do hair, as close contact services weren’t allowed. August was looking even better, but the majority of my 2020 brides had moved their weddings to either much later in the year, or to 2021 by this point, so it was a very quiet month! Excitement started to build as close contact services were then allowed to open up, but 3 days before, Boris decided to put a hold on that and a lot of plans were squashed! Makeup still wasn’t allowed as a service! I am very lucky that I do both hair and makeup as I was still able to do some work and earn some money. Then to my great relief, makeup was allowed again two weeks after the initial statement, and I had a sudden influx of last minute weddings.

"After my first wedding back, I came home and cried my eyes out"

I was so excited to get back to it again! I had been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure my whole kit was easy to sanitise and safe to use, as well as using the correct PPE. I purchased 10 extra sets of makeup brushes so each person had a newly sanitised set, and I researched how I could use my kit in the most hygienic way. Generally hair, makeup and beauty professionals know how to, and do, work incredibly hygienically but we started to take things to a whole new level. It added extra time and expense and a lot more to think about.

After my first full wedding back, I came home and cried my eyes out. The fire was gone, the excitement of the wedding morning was dampened, and I could hardly breathe or see wearing a mask and a visor. It was about as afar away from a “normal” wedding morning as it could possibly have been. There was no excited buzz and things were very tame. My husband was amazing. He poured me a drink, calmed me down and said that things may seem different for a while but that I would adapt. I spoke to some colleagues, got my head round everything and felt much better! After a few more weddings I was back in my stride. My fire came back and I felt better than ever, things would be OK! I was starting to get lots of inquiries for 2021 and things were really looking up!

I was on such a high from being able to work again we decided to get a studio built in the garden (lucky me!) where I could base my wedding trials and any other hair and makeup work. I also decided to enter myself into the Four counties wedding awards. I have always been quite competitive, mainly with myself, which has always helped me push to do better. September and October came and went but then things started to look a little more iffy and weddings started being postponed again. By November everything changed once again. The few weddings I had left in the year were postponed, apart from one Bride who amazingly managed to move everything forward to the day before the lockdown.

"I won the Four counties wedding awards"

Four weeks later and the tier system was put in place, but Hertfordshire was in Tier 2! I was able to work! I managed to get one last minute wedding in before it changed again! It was difficult to keep up! When the Christmas announcements were aired I was, like everyone else, completely devastated. Moral was low everywhere you went, even though people were trying to keep their spirits up.

The next thing that happened was the real lift I needed, I won the Four counties wedding awards for the makeup category and received the ‘one to watch’ for hair! I promptly burst into tears! I was so happy and all of the effort I had put in for the year, regardless of everything going on, had paid off! So for me personally, 2020 ended on a real high. I’m ready and waiting for 2021 in the hope that I get to make up many more wonderful Brides.

2020 - you have been very testing at times, but I am grateful for a lot, and as they say 'What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!'

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