Pandemic-battered beauty businesses hope for revenue rebound

A customer at SBK Beauty and Lash Parlour in Reno gets microblading done on their eyebrows.

A customer at SBK Beauty and Lash Parlour in Reno gets microblading done on their eyebrows. Courtesy Photo

For years, when a customer walked into Skin by Kym (SBK) Beauty and Lash Parlour in Reno, more often than not they were seeking eyelash fills or extensions.

“Fourteen years ago, I started doing lash extensions and added that as an extra service to my business, and then it kind of just took over my business,” said owner Kym Hanson. “My sales were 75% lashes.”

That’s no longer the case. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, fewer SBK clients are looking to enhance their beauty with lash extensions, rather going with a subtler look. After all, people are spending more time inside their homes and less time going out to dinner parties, concerts and weddings — events that often drive lash sales.

Not to mention, extended or filled-in eyelashes — which can cost anywhere from $65 to $300 — are a lot less noticeable over Zoom calls. As a result, lash sales have dipped down to being about 50% of SBK’s business, Hanson said.

All the while, Hanson’s brick-and-mortar beauty shop is seeing a rise in customers seeking skincare services, from facials to back treatments.

Kym Hanson, owner of SBK Beauty and Lash Parlour, saw revenue drop 25% nearly every month in the second half of 2020.


“People are like, ‘my skin is breaking out,’” Hanson said. “Because of people having to wear the masks and breathing their own carbon dioxide, it’s really affecting their skin. So, people are really becoming aware of the need for skincare. It’s kind of changed the scope of my practice a little bit, which I wanted.”


The increased demand for skincare service can also be attributed to the surge in videoconferencing. After months of staring at themselves during Zoom calls, some have emerged from lockdowns motivated to improve their skin, Hanson said.

Still, due to capacity restrictions and social distancing measures, SBK saws it revenue drop 25% nearly every month in 2020 since it reopened in June 2020, Hanson said.

Pre-pandemic, the shop used to get a good amount of foot traffic and sales from consumers shopping their boutique. Now, SBK keeps its doors locked until a client with an appointment arrives at the door.

“We’ve had to turn away some people that just wanted to shop the boutique, and we had to say that we couldn’t accommodate them,” Hanson. “Because we’re trying to limit our contact with people.”

The shop, however, finished the challenging year of 2020 strong.

La Di Da Beauty in South Reno has seen a lot more customers come in to correct failed at-home hair coloring attempts, said owner Laura Garcia.


“December was a really great month,” said Hanson, noting her sales were up 30% compared to December 2019. “I did some marketing and ran some specials, and people really jumped on board with it.”

And Hanson feels the demand for skincare services will only grow in 2021.

“I feel that people have learned to slow down a little bit and are taking care of our health,” she said. “And I feel like skincare is very much a part of that.”


When the pandemic caused hair salons to shut down for months, many people attempted to color their own hair at home. Some succeeded, others failed.

La Di Da Beauty, which has a salon in South Reno and does on-location hair and makeup, saw a lot of customers in the latter category, said owner Laura Garcia.

Laura Garcia, owner of La Di Da Beauty, says her business saw a 30% decrease in revenue in 2020. 

“There were so many people trying to color their own hair and making mistakes,” Garcia said. “We had a lot of color corrections.”

As for the Zoom boom and mask mandates, Garcia did not feel either drove in more customers. She pointed to the fact that people can now use filters on their video calls and wearing masks in public reduces people’s desire to wear lipstick or spend a lot of time and money on makeup.

Though La Di Da Beauty still sees a steady flow of clients come through the door, they are not able to serve as many clients under COVID restrictions. Garcia said stylists used to be able to “double book” and serve two clients at the same time. Not anymore.

“It’s cut our traffic in our salon in half,” she said. “And, in turn, that affects our retail sales. One of the biggest moneymakers in how salons support themselves are through retail sales.

“Until we’re able to operate at full capacity, we will continue to unfortunately have lower numbers.”

In all, La Di Da Beauty’s revenue was down roughly 30% in 2020, Garcia said.


Part of that drop stemmed from the company seeing its on-location appointments almost completely chopped off in 2020.

In a normal year, Garcia said her business would typically service more than 100 weddings, primarily on the Nevada and California side of Lake Tahoe. Last year, La Di Da did 10.

“Over 90% of our weddings were canceled or rescheduled,” Garcia said. “And we’re service-based, so weddings that got moved to this year are now taking a date that somebody else would have booked, so it really has blocked some money.”

Not to mention, the size of weddings and bridal parties are getting smaller in the COVID era, as micro weddings have become a growing trend. This, Garcia said, ultimately results in less revenue for businesses like hers.

“When you take a wedding that would normally have 300 people and take it down to 50 people, some people aren’t even having bridal parties anymore,” she explained. “So then the need for hair and makeup ends up changing. And then how many people can you even have in a room getting their hair and makeup done?”

Garcia said La Di Da Beauty is booked out for weddings in 2021 and inquiries are still rolling in.
Yet, uncertainty still surrounds the upcoming wedding season.

“We’re not really sure what to expect,” Garcia said. “It’ll be interesting to see if those are able to happen. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”


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