TALLINN - In today's world, both women and men are increasingly looking at beauty treatments as an essential part of their lifestyle 's which has in recent years given rise to numerous specialized beauty salons.
But as the crisis continues to tear through the Baltics, many of those beauty salons are being forced to close their doors.
Tatiana Tsvetkova is the owner of Tandem Beauty Salon, a popular salon in Tallinn's center. Tsvetkova said the crisis will make this a difficult year for beauty salon owners.
"Because of the economic crisis, beauty salon businesses will suffer much this year and the growth that was possible [in the industry] during the past years will decline," Tsvetkova told The Baltic Times.
Tsvetkova said that she had seen room for growth when she started her business. She explained that in France, about half the women in the country go to a beauty salon every other week 's it has become a part of their regular routine 's a level that Estonians have not yet reached.
"I was dreaming of starting my own beauty salon. Then the time came to make the dream a reality. My family helped me to start up my own business, investing the family money in it," the beauty salon owner said.
"I have always dreamed of becoming a cosmetologist and owning my own salon. I feel that I have a future in trying to make others feel beautiful in more ways than one," she said.
Yet with many in the country now in fear of losing their jobs or suffering pay cuts, people have begun to slash their spending on beauty treatments and business is plummeting.
"Nowadays, in these economic hard times, it is very difficult for beauty salons to survive. Some salons are closing, some just hanging on by a thread hoping to survive the crisis. Unfortunately, we are one of those who can't survive and overcome the crisis," she said.
SAVING ON BEAUTY
Tsvetkova said that in today's economic environment about 90 percent of women in the country feel they are not able to afford regular beauty treatments.
This is resulting in some interesting trends for the business.
Hairdresser Natalia Semenova said many clients are still using special services 's such as tanning and dying their hair, to keep their color fresh during Estonia's sunless winter 's but many of the more common services are beginning to suffer.
"Recently clients have started to ask to have a short hair cut so that they won't come to the beauty salon very often," Semenova told TBT.
"Men have also started to come more rarely and take only the services that are really necessary," she said.
"My work depends on clients 's if there are no clients there is no work and in accordance with that there is no money," the hairdresser said.
Viktoria Krusman, a nail technician at Tandem, agreed, saying that she noticed many people looking for less expensive services.
"I can say that during this year, when we are facing a crisis, none of the clients wanted to take the spa procedure 's this is really shocking for me. I can say that people who used to take spa pedicures now ask just to have something simpler to save money."
THE SILVER (EYE)LINING
But not all is doom and gloom in the beauty industry 's many salons with moderate or low prices have yet to feel the pinch of the economic crisis.
"We don't see any impact on us from the financial crisis," Siim Suurmets, the manager and owner of Esteetika Beauty Salon told TBT.
"We are not seeing any reduction of our business," he added. "Generally speaking, we don't feel an obvious loss in our business."
According to the manager of Carmeni Salong, Helgi Ukatova, who also works as a hairdresser, relatively expensive beauty salons are facing a reduction in new customers and price reductions. For mid-range or less expensive salons, however, there is no real danger of having to shut the doors.
"Our salon is for middle-class people, and of course it is more difficult to survive for those who are highly-priced. Though we have lost a few clients and the growth hasn't gone up much, we can't say that the situation is terrifying for us," Ukatova added.
Many are also making a business out of providing beauty treatments to foreigners that come to the country because of the low prices.
Semanova said she has some clients that come from London, Oslo, and St. Petersburg to take services that are significantly less expensive in Estonia than in their home countries.
In the beauty industry, this is a two way road. The industry has been particularly hard hit by emigrants going West to find work 's a situation that has prompted the Labor Market Exchange to begin offering courses to retrain workers as hairdressers and other beauty specialists.
FOOT IN THE DOOR
With lots of freshly trained qualified labor just entering the market and a number of beauty salons being forced to shut down, now would seem the perfect time for entrepreneurs to look into starting up their own salon.
Tsvetkova said it would not be difficult to build a successful business in the future, as long as the budding businessmen made sure to keep a good relationship with clients, secure a good amount of start-up funds, understand the licensing and insurance procedures and ensured the business had a cutting edge interior and exterior design.
"All you need is good beauty sense, creativity, lots of initiative, strong judgment, and sufficient financial backing. Aside from planning the business itself, you have to consult people who have been in the business for quite some time. Experience, I think, is the key to success. This will give you a big boost because it will give you an inside look at what's it's like to work in a beauty salon," the beauty salon owner said.
"Before starting your own salon, it would be ideal to work for a well-known salon for a certain period of time."
"This will give you a hands-on experience and deal with clients directly. This is your chance to build good rapport among clients. Also, this will allow you to build your own database of clientele, which would help tremendously in the long run. This will also give you the chance to give good service," she said.