When Meaghan Dickson started her home salon in 2019, she had no way of knowing that a global pandemic would crush her fledgling businesses.
“My son was six months old when the pandemic started so I was running a salon from home with him because that’s just what entrepreneurs do. It was hard,” Dickson said.
After only being open for six months, Dickson shut it down because of the strain of COVID-19 restrictions on her industry.
“That was probably the hardest year of our lives. So we had to make some tough decisions and there was no choice but to pivot,” Dickson said.
Dickson closed the salon but was intrigued by trend she spotted on TikTok.
As a hair stylist with 13 years of experience, she figured she could improve on the homemade heatless curling products and out of that idea, she launched her own product called Emerald Bella.
Emerald Bella is a satin curling ribbon that curls hair without using heat.
“Today is our one-year anniversary and we have had over 800 orders in a year. We market through Instagram and it’s just been crazy successful,” Dickson said.
“This started just as an idea. I started going to Home Depot to get supplies and now it has flourished into an successful product that isn’t from Home Depot anymore but it just grew and grew,” Dickson said.
The CEO of YW Calgary says women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic because they make up the majority of service industry roles and take on a greater amount of childcare and elder care.
“A half million jobs across Canada were lost that women had,” CEO Sue Tomney said. “Recognizing that there has to be a concentrated effort to get those women back into those roles and recognize that we have lost in ground in the last two years.”
Tomney said the deal between Alberta and Ottawa for affordable child care has been a huge win and will reduce barriers for women. She said through the pandemic, women have been struggling to manage increased demands, often at the expense of their well-being.
Tomney said in order to recover, women must have the resources and supports they need to manage their emotional health, while strengthening their financial well-being.
“In terms of how women are recovering, it’s partly an awareness of extreme fatigue. We have a saying here that everybody has been operating on the edge of their emotions. I think partly it’s recognizing that buckets are empty and what needs to be done to help replenish those buckets,” Tomney said.
Dickson agrees that with a spouse working full time, child care would help her get a lot more accomplished.
“I run this business from home with a two year old and a nine week old and it is hard.
“There are some days where I think I’m going to move mountains and there are some days where I accomplish nothing with a stack of orders.
“It’s hard because with women, we are expected to work as if we don’t have kids and I think that is something that needs to change because we can change the world,” Dickson said.
Even with her hands full of hair products, paperwork, a toddler and newborn, Dickson says where she’s at now has been the best outcome from a hard decision.
“You are a lot more powerful than you think you are. I just think that anyone who has an idea is capable of seeing it through.”