Honouring public health means private worriesOntario · Jun 2, 2020
Nelson Aguiar, owner of Sekt Hair Studio in Toronto
The pandemic is a nightmare that has impinged on the dreams of many entrepreneurs; especially those who provide proximal hands-on services to customers. Nelson Aguiar, the owner of Sekt Hair Studio in Toronto, has been ordered to temporarily shutter his salon to help flatten the curve. Caught in a waiting game, he now ruminates on what the ultimate responsibility of a business owner is.
“The hardest time of day would have to be at night. So many unknowns pass through your mind. It’s very difficult to understand or foresee the impact this will all have. I’m worrying about my coworkers, friends, and have definitely lost a lot of sleep .” -Nelson Aguiar, owner of Sekt Hair Studio.
Pivot. Virtualize. Diversify. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what a small business can do to survive right now. It’s well-intentioned advice, but for those who have been ordered to close, and for those whose services fundamentally put themselves, their colleagues and their customers in immediate risk, it’s not just easier said than done, it’s a tragic impossibility.
"I started this business because all I ever wanted was my independence,” says Nelson Aguiar, the owner of Sekt Hair Studio in Toronto. “I went from salon to salon before I realized I just needed to create an environment for myself and others. So I purchased and built my own studio, and focused on building an environment that would help stylists grow independently.” Ironically, the future of Aguiar’s business is now dependant on countless factors beyond his control; like the easing of restrictions, the creation of a vaccine or clear and defined guidelines for how to reopen and operate safely.
Dealing with a crisis that’s equal parts economic and existential for small business owners, Aguiar has found solace in the support he has received. “My hope comes from my clients. They are constantly checking in, and asking how they can support in any way. They are as anxious to get their life started as I am.” Incredible colleagues have even offered to pay rent during the shutdown. But for Aguiar there’s a pensive stillness that is selfless. "The most important thing to learn is that not one person is more important than any other. Understanding that a grocery clerk is putting their life on the line, cab drivers, janitors, hospital staff, food delivery. All of these people make a living, but also help us make a living. Having appreciation for every profession is so important." Yes, it is. But so is appreciation for Nelson Aguiar. He’s put his business on the line to protect each and every one of us. When it reopens, let’s show him our support.
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