Reopening a Black-Owned Nail Salon in Brooklyn During the Pandemic — Interview, Photos

With momentum like this, it’s worth a reminder that ShesPolished is only two years old — which only emphasizes just how much that the COVID-19 pandemic brought all of that momentum to a screeching halt.

During lockdown, Aguirre went into hustle mode, which is her version of survival mode. At the beginning of April, only a few weeks after she had to close her salon, Aguirre returned to work at a previous job at a local hospital as an operations manager. As an essential worker, Aguirre and her hospital team were responsible for ensuring that the hospital was clean and ready to function for its patients.

“A lot of family and friends thought I was crazy,” says Aguirre. “Like, ‘What? You’re going [to work at the hospital]?’ But some of my friends were like, ‘One thing we know is that your hustle is serious.’ I don’t like not knowing where my next dollar is going to come from. My old boss called me, and I was like, I’m there.”

Dee Williams for Allure

Even off the clock, Aguirre was busy caring for her family — she has a 12-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son — and she runs a merch line called Polished Thredz Co. from her home. “People were buying shirts, hats, masks, things like that. [Financially] that helped, too,” Aguirre says. “I applied for a loan so that I could continue to pay my staff. I paid them as much as I could, and working [at the hospital] allowed me to pay the rent. I was trying to stay afloat as much as we could.”

After three full months of being closed due to lockdown, ShesPolished reopened only one day shy of its second anniversary, fully booked, and with new booking requirements. All customers and employees are required to wear personal protective equipment, such as face masks, to their appointments. The salon’s waiting area has been removed, so customers must arrive at the salon alone and on time. The amount of people that are allowed in the salon at one time has been reduced, and each client must sign a waiver and have their temperature checked before entering the salon.

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