Spotlight on… the self-employed stylist

Jodie Austen

Any kind of illness is a nightmare when you’re self-employed. Coronavirus has taken that worry to a whole new level. Session stylist Jodie Austen, better known by many as Peachy Stylist and founder of The Peachy Studio, tells us how she’s been preparing

UPDATED – 23 March 2020

As of 23 March 2020, all non-essential shops and services have been ordered to close for a minimum of three weeks.

Right now, we’ve been pushed outside our comfort zone and we’re going to have to stay there if we want to see some real changes. But the first thing we’ve all got to do is slow down.

My main points of advice at this time is to:

  • Stay connected with, and put to absolute use, your contact list
  • Research and stay advised by following trusted sources for your information
  • Re-strategise your business
  • Think about and discover what you CAN provide to your customers at this time

Then you need to figure out how to action any of your ideas, so learn and discover what you need to and then apply that knowledge.

Research and strategise

  • How to productively utilise digital technology like social media
  • How to mindfully distribute your products services
  • You can ask the professional contacts you already have within your business what you can arrange and set up too

Definitely think about what measures and precautions need to be made to protect yourself and your customers, and tell them what you’re doing differently.

How I’ve kept The Peachy Studio trading is by servicing more mindfully. With my education and session work I take zoom calls and have stayed in touch using online resources but I’ve ceased doing photoshoots whilst in this pandemic. I’m taking orders for professional hair care products to send out to my clients.

A lot of us are used to packed-out busy columns, walk-ins and direct contact with customers to make sales – but that’s what has to stop right now. We are forced to slow down and be more deliberate about what we’re providing as services to stay safe.

It’s important that we look after ourselves and the ones we love. This pandemic calls those of us that wish to continue providing hair care to re-strategise our business.

  • Identify what your business is able to do right now and what you are able to implement to stay in business.
  • You can also use this time to recognise what else you and your business needs for growth and how it can be more ideal for your own goals in life.
  • Identify what you haven’t got, what you need to get it, and start researching, learning and actioning.
  • Keep communication open with clients, through social media, email, phone calls. Let them know they can get in touch with you if they need your help. An appointment may not be possible but what else can you do to help them right now? Are any of these ideas viable and something you can implement and structure into your business?

Self-care & Mindfulness

Creative block is real, especially when panic and fear is high. You have to look after yourself too and if you’re unable to think too clearly or you’re losing it because you’ve got hairdressing withdrawal symptoms and all you need to do right now is touch some hair – a little structure to help yourself may be in order.

I have a daily checklist I’m releasing which are things I do daily to check in and ignite my creativity

Now is a great time to get your block head out and practice hair! Learning right now is a great step forward and will help aid your withdrawal symptoms and even inspire you

You can try something new! When you’re creative, you can turn your talented hands and visionary skills to all sorts – so find out what else can you do?

  • Surround yourself with positive inspiration and knowledge. Using something like Pinterest to search and save inspirational quotes and images and find home hacks or creative things! It’s a great way to collect ideas, feed and comfort your creative mind.
  • Ensure your social media timelines and email inbox are showing you what helps you:
    • Delete and unfollow accounts that cause you worry
    • Add and follow accounts that help you, from healthier eating to yoga/meditation and hair industry channels like @nhbfsocial that are providing knowledge on the pandemic situation and what you need to know. Definitely connect with some accounts that are trusted resources for the information you need right now.

I am also releasing social content, so feel free to follow me online @peachystylist.

Original feature – 17 March 2020

“My partner and I discussed it over the early weeks and we started respecting the severity of the situation back in February.

We had begun actively following (checking several times through the day) because it was updating in real time with tolls that could show us the spread and reporting deaths, ages of those dying, locations, new outbreaks, live reports. Neither of us are ones to watch the news, only to check the headlines. We actively investigated for clear information. We kept an eye on it so we could see for ourselves how the virus was spreading and whether people were recovering, the types of people it was affecting etc. and know whether to start taking precautions.

By the end of February I began to avoid travelling and had meetings via Zoom online calls, only leaving the house to get food and essential supplies, and service my private clientele and education and session bookings. I stopped taking on any new editorial work completely. I wanted to avoid going into London for anything that wasn’t necessary.

There was much mockery online and flippant remarks at how it was “only a flu” but from keeping an eye on the numbers via the app, and listening to a few interviews of medical professionals, I felt that although we hadn’t had anything official from our government to escalate caution, that we should be careful and do all we can to prevent spreading it.

So, in an attempt to reassure my clients and at the least let them know that I cared for their wellbeing at such an uncertain time, I put together a questionnaire on 5 March.

I also posted in the UK Hairdressers Helping Hairdressers group about it to help share that we should probably start reassuring our clients and doing what we can.

The questionnaire said:

“In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Peachy Studio is introducing temporary measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone who uses our services.

Please complete this form:

We are collecting data from all our clients for the purpose of carrying out contact tracing and other response measures that may arise due to Coronavirus.  This information will be destroyed once there are no business or legal purposes to keep it.

1. What is your name?

2. When do you have an in-person appointment with The Peachy Studio?

3. What is your phone number?

4. Are you experiencing any fever or flu-like symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat?

4a. If yes, which symptoms do you have?

5. Have you been in contact with any person who is a confirmed case of Coronavirus in the last 14 days?

5a. If yes, please provide further details here

6. Have you returned from travelling abroad in the last 14 days?

6a. If yes, please provide details of your travel.”

“I am currently open for business as normal, however I visit clients privately and the way my business works is I schedule one client a day max. After the UK government announced that social distancing is now absolutely required I have dropped my 48 hour cancellation period so clients can reschedule to stay safe. I have stopped taking on editorial styling work and I’m not travelling to do any photoshoots – all work of this nature has been cancelled too.

“I had a job in London last week that I wasn’t sure whether to do. I wore a mask on the train and tube, which got some strange looks and a comment. I did not shake anyone’s hands, which had mixed reactions from the team. This was prior to the announcement by WHO that it was a pandemic. That got announced just after the shoot wrapped.

“Everyone will be affected, so financially the strain may feel huge but I believe that money should not be leading decisions right now. Thankfully I made changes to my business last May to protect myself from the current problems most freelancers face. I’ve identified what my real offer is; the most common questions someone would ask me I’ve prepared them in a funnel; I’ve prepared a series of questions to ask prospective clients to identify whether or not they are a fit for my services, and by doing this I’ve increased my prices more than 300 per cent. I take a 50 per cent deposit which has terms and conditions, and I’ve initiated more cold outreach and paid advertising.

“I have complete faith and know that if we all care about each other first, giving what we can and helping each other to stay safe, then we can get through this.”


Are you self-employed and concerned about how you will continue financially? This might help…

Tax support
HMRC’s Time to Pay service works on a case-by-case basis and is tailored to each individual. There’s a COVID-19 helpline that offers advice and support, and HMRC has an extra 2,000 experienced call handlers available. If you’re worried about paying your taxes because of COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Income help
If you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, the government is making it a bit easier to claim Universal Credit. While the outbreak lasts, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support.

People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a Jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate. 

The government has also announced a new £500m Hardship Fund so Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more Council Tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through similar measures.