MASON, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the first time Tawana Phillips had to close her salon for several months.
Phillips was forced to close Classic Manes Hair Studio a year prior as she recovered from leukemia.
“I survived and beat cancer, but now we’re going through this with COVID. And I’m sure I’ll survive and beat this, too, but it’s kind of like the same thing, being off and coming back up from that financial hit,” she said.
Phillips typically sees more than 150 clients a month, so she said the pandemic has brought on a lot of down time.
To help soften that blow, the Salon Give Back Grant Program is giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Black women-owned salons impacted by the pandemic.
The grant program, sponsored by Gold Series from Pantene and Royal Oils By Head and Shoulders, gave out $200,000 in grants to 20 salon owners.
Breann Davis, brand director for multicultural hair care at Procter & Gamble, said she hopes the $10,000 awarded through the program will help Black women-owned salons overcome the financial blow.
“Black women are actually the largest growing group of entrepreneurs in this country, but they’re also the most underfunded,” Davis said.
Davis said the impact of a salon goes far beyond a haircut and that Black salons “are sacred” in the Black community.
“A lot of our salon owners and personal stylists aren’t just our stylists, they are literally family,” she said. "I got a lot of lessons on self-esteem, I got lots of advice, lots of encouragement, and I also walked out feeling a lot better about myself.”
Phillips said the grant will help her continue to live out her dream of being a hairstylist, now that she can move forward with some financial help.
“(I have) a little bit of freedom now. I can breathe,” she said. “I’m able to do things in the salon now that I can implement as far as COVID to make it safer and to help me get back on my feet.”