Starting around mid-March, the whole world changed. With most of the world forced inside, business as usual plummeted, and operations came to a halt. Like many other service-based businesses, the beauty industry is an outlier in the government’s definition of essential, leaving them to fend for themselves.
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s $27-billion-dollar bailout plan left many hopeful, the task of evenly dividing it between all the businesses affected by the world’s enemy number one is a daunting task. There doesn’t seem to be enough to go around, and distributions are asymmetrical. While some beauty gurus made the decision to shut down and wait until the smoke clears, others made an interesting transition in hopes to fill the gaps caused by Covid-19.
From Hair to Healthcare
When haircare giants, AG Hair, expanded back in 2018, all seemed swell. They were booming in production and making their way into major markets in Canada and the United States. With a team of creators and innovators, they were constantly on-trend, always first in line with the most trend-worthy products in town. Come 2020 and talk of expansion into the European sector of haircare were in the works, until March. When Covid-19 made its way across oceans into multiple continents, it brought both fear and uncertainty. Unsure of what the future might hold, both international and domestic borders were closed off, and AG Hairs’ successful rein went kaput. Not only did hopes of expanding into foreign markets stop but, also sales to major salons ceased. The lack of purchases caused a decrease in demand, which halted production and left no work for AG Hairs, 82 employees.
Realizing the detriment that could result in employees unable to work, AG Hair lit an entrepreneurial fire and put their new expanded space to use. AG Hair’s CEO Graham Fraser was quick to act, powered by the will to keep his employees working and fed. He and his team noticed that the healthcare industry was struggling to keep patients and staff safe, hit by a global shortage of hand-sanitizing products. “We realized there was this massive need for healthcare professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” Fraser claimed. With all the equipment and space available in their new site, they saw an opportunity to get to work and stay working even in the midst of a global pandemic. Of course, they couldn’t just move from one sector to another, taking some time to pour over documents and get the proper paperwork to switch gears.
Haircare to the Rescue
In just one week, they received proper approvals and whipped up a sample of their germ-killing concoction in only 2 days. This swift push showed their stamina and had them up and running with permission to operate in US and Canadian markets. The first batches went out within one month, going directly to hospitals in short supply. Soon after, AG moved to Amazon, where consumers could purchase in individual and bulk quantities. Of their entire production, 10% went to those in need, including those living in the hardest-hit regions. Further putting their space to use, they cleared a spot for Parallel 49 Brewing Company, allowing them to produce their own hand sanitizers in partnership with the B.C government. The majority of these were provided to front-line medical workers, including emergency staff that were among the most at-risk.
For now, AG Hair will stick to hand sanitizing products, possibly making them a permanent addition to their diverse menu of hair care products. The need for hand sanitizer is here to stay, and perhaps even more critical now that talks of a ‘second wave’ are in the air. As Fraser put it, “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.” Things don’t look so bad in Canada, with cases on the downfall after hitting a large peak back in the first weeks of May. As far as their southern neighbors, the U.S seems to be struggling, with numbers on the rise again. The numbers don’t provide enough information to predict where we will be come fall accurately, with Canada’s Flue season most typical around the end of August.
Canada, like most of the world, is taking measures to get businesses back up and running. But, if a second wave comes, we could go back into quarantine, leaving businesses on standby. Large markets like the US and Canada are slowly coming back to life as things start to open up. This does not say much about the latter half of 2020, as we make our way further into uncharted territory. It is businesses like AG Hair, that were able to make swift changes in their operations that have been able to keep their head above water. Their drive to keep their employees working led them to a new business venture, one that brought them much success. While they seem to have enough work to last through a second wave and beyond, many businesses don’t. A worldwide crisis could result if we are all forced back inside once again.
The New Normal?
Whether or not this is a long-term “normal” or just a wrinkle in time, is unknown. From a business standpoint, a foggy future could mean trouble lies ahead. Not sure where to invest, business ventures are on the downfall, and things just seem stuck. As 2020 fly’s past, we are sure to see some fantastic transitions and great falls. Not all businesses will make it out alive, especially not those without the resources to naturally adapt. Our biological enemy might conquer some, but it is no match for revolutionized business practices with innovative traits weaved into their DNA.