Haven’s 2 Year Anniversary
Overcoming All Odds
From all of us at Haven we would like to offer our thanks to our family, friends and dearest patrons. Without you we wouldn’t have made it to our 2nd birthday. As we celebrate, we wish to reflect by taking you on the journey of our experience so far.
On November 5th, 2019, Haven opened its doors for the first time. Our founders Evan Ross and Hugo Molina opened the salon with the intention of cultivating a safe Haven. A safe space with no judgement, for people from all walks of life. With that vision in mind we warmly opened our doors with great excitement and hope for what was to come.
As new salon owners, we feared but anticipated that months or years would pass before we would be able to enjoy a regular income again, which would be normal for the owners of a new small business. However, due to overwhelming support and an enormously loyal following from years of servicing the local community’s hair needs, we were able to surpass all of our initial expectations.
Things were really looking up and after over a year of planning and taking on enormous risk, something unexpected happened. Just three months after opening, news was spreading of a virus causing disruption around the world. On March 17th the Government of Canada mandated that Haven, along with all other ‘non-essential’ businesses, were to be closed for public safety. The first pandemic lockdown had begun.
After almost 4 months of closure, on June 26th 2020 Haven’s doors re-opened, but with strict restrictions due to COVID-19. In spite of that, business was booming once again as those who were brave or were in dire need chose to get our hair groomed. Many people admitted that they were desperate to feel a sense of normalcy and goodness by being out and about again, and Haven was their excuse to do so. Some also admitted that this was the first and only place they had gone outside of our homes since the lockdown began. It was such an honor to have the community rallying behind us once more.
With Haven growing once again and in such high demand due to the support of our patrons, we were in need of a new team member. That summer we were honored to invite hair stylist and fashion designer Julien Lacelle to our team. He fit right in and was thriving immediately. He quickly became booked back to back on a daily basis for many weeks in a row.
With the fear of another lockdown looming, locals were urgently booking appointments. COVID-19 cases began to rise again. In the fall, while cutting our guests’ hair and watching CP24 live in the salon, we waited for the impending news. Doug Ford gave his speech during which he exercised his authority to place the province back into lockdown. Once again we were forced to shut down. Our last day open in 2020 was November 25th.
This time, circumstances were different. The lockdown lasted 7 months, during which we began to wonder if our dream of operating a salon in the city was coming to an end. Being so new, and without being fully subsidized by the government, the path ahead was bleak and hope that we could remain afloat was fading. Doing our best to persevere, we managed to generate a few dollars each month by selling ‘Color Kits’ with a curbside pick up option. This was our way of trying to support our community by providing options to keep everyone’s hair healthy.
Several members of our community also reached out asking for ways they could help support Haven during the closure, which was very kind and helped reassure us that we weren’t in it alone. We also saw in the news that cosmetic hair products were being sold at big box stores such as Walmart and Amazon, who were bringing in billions of dollars in additional profit during the pandemic. Meanwhile small businesses like hair salons were still not allowed to operate. This was a real blow and left us devastated. If it wasn’t for the support of our community, this would have been the lowest point of our journey.
Around that time, there was also the strange circumstance that businesses and hair salons in York Region were allowed to operate, only a 5 minute drive from Haven. This was especially troubling since it meant that on top of being closed, we could be losing business to our competitors up the road. In April, Doug Ford announced that salons would be allowed to open on April 12th, but the idea was scrapped shortly after and the entire province went back into lockdown.
On July 2nd, after over 10 months total of being forced to close our doors to the community, Haven was allowed to reopen for business once again. We were ecstatic to welcome our community back into our doors and our community did not hold back on their support! We are so thankful to everyone who supported us during those first two months. During that time we provided a record setting number of services. We coloured overgrown roots that were a year overdo, cut people’s hair at lengths we had never seen before, and saw some clients coming back to the salon for the first time in nearly two years.
With Haven back in such high demand, help was needed and we were struggling to find a new team member. We learned that many people in the service industry were staying home and collecting CERB, EI, or were taking this unprecedented opportunity to reassess their career or life direction. After four months of searching, we found Julia Ventrella, who became the newest junior member of the Haven family.
In the present day, Haven has become stronger, with the hope that there will be no further lockdowns forcing us to close shop. The province of Ontario boasts that over 75% of its population is fully vaccinated, thus allowing Haven to have remained operational for more than 5 months consecutively for the first time. We are finally starting to make up for lost time and growth. While things have not gone as planned, we have a new appreciation for our community which showed it’s unwavering support through the worst times.
Opening a small independent business is risky, but we have thus far survived against all odds and will continue the uphill battle in which we will emerge victorious with the support of our amazing community. Nearing over 200 genuine Google reviews and an astounding 5 Star rating, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of you. With your continued support we will push forward building a space where individuals and families can be themselves and enjoy the coolest vibes in the city, here in the heart of North York.
And so, thank you. Thank you for all your support during this hard time and thank you for showing up time after time. We hope to see you again soon and if you are new to us, come on in and find your Haven.
P.S. – A brief reflection.
The Haven family fully acknowledges that as members of a developed nation, our problems both politically and socially don’t often compare to the problems experienced by members of some other nations. Haven firmly takes the stance that Canadians and members of other similar nations should reflect on and be aware of the luxury of having been born into a place where the biggest problems we have are often the problems other people wish they had. While Haven was not fully subsidized by the Government, and therefore we were unable to earn a living while suffering the incursion of more debt, we also see the importance of acknowledging that money was our biggest and only problem. That in itself, is a luxury which should not be taken for granted.