SALISBURY — A year ago, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Salon 42/70 owner Kimberly Bamford was looking for creative ways to cater to clients — while at the same time keeping busy when most of the business community was shut down to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.
So when the idea came to see clients on the back porch of her Bridge Road salon, she grabbed the opportunity.
The porch visits became a popular work-around for her and even caught the attention of state Rep. James Kelcourse, R-Amesbury.
In January, Kelcourse laminated a photo of Bamford and a client on the porch and mailed it to the salon owner as a way of congratulating her for staying in business.
Last week, Bamford said she was never going to let COVID-19 destroy her business or stop her from what she has been doing for 35 years and has been in her family for generations.
“My clients knew I’d be coming back,” she said, while sitting in one of her salon chairs. “And they came back, too.”
Bamford, who co-owns and shares space within Salon 42/70 with Amanda Valli, acknowledged that for the foreseeable future and possibly forever, there would be plenty of changes in store for her loyal clients.
First among them is the continued wearing of masks while in the salon. As the state and some municipalities loosen mask mandates, Bamford said she will continue to insist on wearing masks until she gets the OK from the state’s Board of Registration of Cosmetology and Barbering.
“I want them to feel comfortable,” Bamford said of her clients.
Longtime client Maria Wilkins, while sitting in a salon chair Friday morning, said she felt “very comfortable” getting her hair done.
“Everybody is doing what they should be doing,” the Salisbury resident said of Bamford and others in her line of work.
Wilkins called getting her hair done even during a pandemic “self care” and “mental health.”
“When my roots were showing, I wasn’t feeling my best,” she said.
With mask wearing and other safety improvements, there have been no reported cases connected to the studio since the pandemic began last year.
And while Bamford has raised her prices recently to match demand, she does not charge pandemic service or cleaning fees, she said.
Another alteration that she does not see going away anytime soon is the number of people in her salon.
Since Bamford and other hairdressers and barbers received the OK to begin having people into their establishments again, clients have been texting stylists from outside.
There, they wait until the client inside has left. Friends of clients who once hung out in the waiting area and chatted during the appointment will not be allowed to do that anymore.
Bamford said she considered those changes positive in the sense that they reduce chaos in the salon and keep her clients safer.
Another positive, she said, was that the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of her profession, which she said has garnered more respect in terms of keeping its communities healthier.
If there has been a downside to fewer people in her salon at one time, it has been the reduced number of clients she and Valli can see during the week.
The co-owners typically stagger their schedules so they are in the salon by themselves and because incoming clients must wait outside until the current client is leaving, appointments take longer, she said.
In all, Bamford estimated she’s lost a third of her available slots.
Asked if there was any point during the last year that she thought about closing her business, Bamford immediately shot down that thought, saying she was “nowhere near throwing in the towel.”
“I have not allowed myself to be battered and beaten. I rode it out. I just love what I’m doing more than ever before,” she said.
Dave Rogers is a staff writer with The Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.