This past year has been a rough one, but one local business has received recognition for the way it handled the challenges of the pandemic year.
Jonathan Kane Salon & Spa in Homewood was recently recognized by a major trade magazine for its efforts in adjusting operations and supporting staff during the pandemic. It’s not the first time they have been honored by Salon Today Magazine.
The publication’s annual contest typically involves salons submitting essays on 11 different topics of consideration, ranging from growth to education and more. Jonathan Kane Salon & Spa has racked up nine awards from the publication.
Due to the pandemic, Salon Today allowed salons to compete by answering just one question: “What were your plans for 2020 and how did you adjust those plans?”
“We were recognized for identifying the ‘pandemic fatigue’ our team was experiencing and bringing in experts to help us explore symptoms, find solutions and realize that it’s okay to not be okay,” said owner Larry Kane (the salon bears his middle name, Jonathan). The Spring 2021 issue featuring the Top 200 salons is now available.
Kane has been a professional stylist since 1979.
“Our inspiration for opening a salon was what we saw as a decline in customer service and that there were no full-service salon and spas located in downtown Flossmoor or Homewood,” Kane explained. “We knew that with the right people — kind, honest, caring people — we would be successful.”
The salon opened in 2010 in the existing Aveda Salon in Flossmoor.
“We moved the salon to a more retail centric area in downtown Homewood in October of 2016,” said Kane.
The salon experienced almost three months of closure because of the pandemic.
“I don’t think there is enough paper to write even a little of how the pandemic affected our business. Business began falling off around the beginning of March as the virus took off. On Wednesday, March 17, Tina, our director of operations and my first hire 11 years ago, and I looked at each other and we both knew it was time to close,” Kane recalled.
Communicating the closure news to staff was one of the most difficult parts of it all.
“I recall approaching a staff member to tell them we were closing that afternoon and I couldn’t say it. I walked out of the salon and cried as I walked around the block to gather myself. The 10 weeks we were closed were full of Zoom staff happy hours, writing protocol, finding ways to not think about being closed, applying for PPP loans, commiserating with other business members, trying to help staff out emotionally and eventually getting ready to reopen,” he said.
“We did open on June 2nd and it was a strong opening. Things are getting better and although business is still down, we can see some light now that vaccines are being done and restrictions are being lifted,” said Kane.
Kane was more than happy to be able to return to doing what he loved, reuniting his staff in person and getting back to serving his clients.
“When I was younger, I remember seeing a store clerk with a button that said ‘We Love Our Customers.’ I thought that was silly back then, but it is so true,” said Kane. “We have a wonderfully diverse clientele. We wanted the diversity of the community to be reflected in the diversity of our staff and we did it.”
That diverse clientele ranges from those age 6 all the way up to 80 and beyond looking to be pampered.
“The community that supports our business is simply the best. They identify with our causes, they frequent our salon, write five-star reviews and speak so highly of us. They are our lifeblood,” said Kane. “They grace us with their business every day and truly feel like family.”
The success of the salon that has created this loyal customer base comes from an experienced and skilled staff, carefully curated products, a commitment to green initiatives in its operation and support of the community.
“There are a few things that set us apart. We hire to a fit not a function. That means we want the right people. We can teach the skill set,” explained Kane. “We cater to the guest experience, after all they are paying for the chance to get the best service, escape a little from the daily stress and to relax in a comforting and welcoming environment.”
Kane said that the salon also supports a number of local causes that are near and dear to him and his staff that include Lighthouse, the Homewood Science Center, South Suburban Family Shelter, The Humane Society Adoption Center, Black Lives Matter, The Cancer Support Center and Aveda Earth Month. You can find a link to each of these organizations and others on the “JK Cares” section of the salon’s website.
“We are also an Aveda Salon, so how we treat each other and the earth is very important. We announced in January 2021 that all Aveda products on shelf are now 100% vegan. And in April, Earth Month, we will be launching our Green Circle Salon program that will enable us to collect and recycle 95% of salon waste through direct recycling or Trash to Energy facilities,” said Kane.
Kane said that it’s the people that he is able to worth with that make his job the best fit for him and he’s happy to be where they are a year into the pandemic that turned the world upside down.
“When I imagined what my salon would be like, this is it. Wonderful staff members that care for each other, love serving others and continue to educate themselves to become the best technicians,” said Kane.
“My role as the owner and leader is to give people the opportunity to learn, grow, earn a living, love their craft and enjoy where they work. This includes wearing all the hats an owner wears, including plumber, painter, janitor, etc., all of which I still enjoy. I work with Tina and our team to develop organic content to post of social media, source and schedule education, marketing and operations. I am lucky to have a great staff that make this easy and a labor of love.”
- Salon owner considers post-pandemic protocols (April 17, 2020)