(The Center Square) – Let it grow. 

With barbershops and salons closed throughout the state, some Illinoisans are wondering what they can do with their hair until the governor's stay-at-home order expires on April 7. Salons and tattoo shops are among the nonessential businesses that have been closed in Illinois to slow the spread COVID-19. Both expect pent up demand when they’re allowed to open back up.

Laura Kinser, owner of LaLee’s Hair Studio in Springfield, said her business puts her very close to her clients.

“I have one-on-one contact with all my clients,” Kinser said. 

She said she had been taking precautions to sanitize her studio before Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order took effect on Saturday.

“My son, he had the H1N1 back in 2009, so I feel like we need to take extra precautions now just to keep myself safe and healthy and my family,” Kinser said.

She said she expects a crush of appointments when the order is lifted and she can re-open. For now, she said she was being frugal with discretionary spending.

“Thankfully, I have an emergency fund set up,” Kinser said. “I have two children and we’re only buying necessities right now … no Hot Wheels for my 9-year-old.”

Matt Schultz is a tattoo artist at Six Finger Tattoo in Rockford. He said the business decided to shut down a week before the governor's order out of an abundance of caution.

“Tattooing is a very intimate procedure where we’re dealing with people less than a foot away from us,” Schultz said. “Sometimes you can feel them breathing on you when you’re tattooing them.”

Schultz said he’s an independent contractor and not eligible for unemployment. He said he has concerns about cancelations even after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“By the time this is over and they show up again, or they won’t show up because they just spent all their money buying food, all their savings,” Schultz said. “That’s a big concern for us.”

Schultz said the downtime allows artists and their clientele to plan for their next session.

“People are doing competitions online, artists are, that everybody's quarantined now, so there are these competitions,” Schultz said. “And of course we’re at home drawing stuff. Clients get a hold of me and say ‘hey, when this passes, I still want to get this thing,’ so I’m doing drawings for them.”

Kinser suggested those in need of a trim grow out their hair for a new look.

“If you’re wanting a new look, this is a great time to let your hair grow out so when you get back to your hairdresser they have something to work with and you can work toward a new goal, a new look,” Kinser said. “I have gray hair clients. Do you want to grow your hair to all natural now? This is a great opportunity to figure out if you love your natural look.”

She also suggested this was the time for men who want to try growing a beard or trying a new beard shape.

“This is just a great opportunity for everybody to look back and see what they’ve been doing with themselves and what they want to look like in future here as we all move forward together,” Kinser said.

Schultz said his clients understood the situation.

“Nobody’s complained at all, everybody has been massively supportive,” Schultz said. “Everybody gets it.”

Kinser said she was surprised by clients reaching out to her.

“Many have reached out to me to check to see if I’m healthy and I’m safe, and my kids are healthy and safe,” Kinser said. “It just really means a lot to me now that everyone is showing so much care.”

She said she’ll use the downtime to spend time with family.

“I get to cook dinner for my kids every night,” Kinser said. “I get to spend that quality time with my family that, as we all who work know, it’s hard to get that one-on-one time with our families.”

The governor’s stay-at-home order goes through April 7.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.