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Lost dreams, financial stress: KZN salon owner on lockdown disaster

11 May 2020 - 10:47 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Thando Msomi, the owner of a beauty salon in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, is feeling the impact of the lockdown.
Thando Msomi, the owner of a beauty salon in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, is feeling the impact of the lockdown.
Image: Supplied by Thando Msomi

She has dipped into her savings, relies on a single income and does not know whether her business will survive.

Thando Msomi says her future is murky as she tries to navigate the unknown during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Msomi owns The Posh Parlour, a beauty salon in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. What started as a passion project when she was retrenched may end in disaster as she seeks rent payment holidays while considering how she can reinvent her business to survive – all while battling anxiety and a constant slew of curveballs thrown her way.

This is her story of loss, devastation and trying to start again. Armed with little hope, Msomi is battling to survive.

Unable to pay bills

“The monthly rent is R5,000 and I had to dip into my savings to pay for April. I managed to arrange a payment break with my landlord for May. Since we don’t know when the lockdown will end, I'm not sure how long the arrangement is for.”

Msomi's business has come to a complete halt since President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement in March of a hard lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Struggling to make ends meet, the young business owner says while the rent payment for her business is “sorted” for now, her other monthly payments have also been affected.

She has been forced to ask for payment holidays from many services as she has had no income since the start of the lockdown.

The lack of earnings also means all the pressure is on her husband to provide. Instead of the couple sharing the financial load, he now has to support her and their three children.

She says when the initial lockdown was announced, she had imagined a temporary threat to her livelihood. That has quickly changed to a possible permanent end of her dreams.

Could this be the end?

She started her business two years ago after she was retrenched at her previous workplace. She enrolled for a beauty course and followed her dream to open a beauty parlour.

Now, not only is her passion project suffering during the lockdown, but the possibility of permanently closing shop is fast becoming a reality.

“I said the lockdown would only last for the initial 21 days, but now looking at the effects it is having on my business makes me anxious. I might not get back on my feet after this. It’s very stressful.”

Beauty salons are only allowed to operate under level 1 of the lockdown. A petition arguing against this has already gathered thousands of signatures, with many salon owners detailing how they have been forced to go underground to survive.

An unclear future

Not knowing what comes next has left Msomi considering all her options. She has cultivated good relationships and will be relying on those, but if she has to vacate the space she rents, a reinvention of her company may be her only alternative.

“I will most likely provide mobile services for people who want to do their make-up, nails and waxing. At least that way I won’t be expected to pay rent.”

In the meantime, uncertainty, financial pressure and rethinking her dreams have become her reality.