How do you teach government what your business really does? That’s just one of the challenges COVID-19 has given Gloria Lipp-Stamp. Lipp-Stamp is the owner of Joanne Lipp European Skin Care and Electrolysis, the spa her mother founded 50 years ago. The Streetsville spa closed temporarily for the second time, along with the rest of the region’s salons and spas, on November 23rd.
“’My clients are all going to Oakville’ is something local owners are hearing,” Gloria said during a recent telephone interview. “All of those years of building your clientele and they are going just 5km down the road. It will be difficult for some spas to get their customers back.”
Shortly after Gloria made her remarks, Premier Doug Ford announced the rest of the province would be joining the restrictions Mississauga was already under as of December 26. The decreased competition will come as no comfort to Lipp-Stamp.
“Spas and salons are not a major source of infection,” Lipp-Stamp said. “We are very similar to a chiropractor, or an osteopath, or a massage therapist. We all spent money on shields, PPE and other safety equipment to keep our customers and co-workers safe, but they only closed us!”
The problem, according to Lipp-Stamp, is that governments don’t really understand how salons and spas work or how services are delivered.
“Local spas and salons have banded together to meet with government representatives. So far we’ve met with the mayor and 5 councilors,” Lipp-Stamp said. “They’ve met with us even though we all knew they were extremely limited in how they could help because closures are under provincial jurisdiction. We were able to convince the mayor and she has been going to bat for us with other levels of government.” More recently The Mississauga Board of Trade organized a session for this group to share their concerns with local MPPs.
The issue, Stamp-Lipp maintains, is not politics but information and education about the beauty service industry that has to come from its source.
“One of the things the pandemic has made us realize is that we are lacking an industry lobby to represent us in front of government,” she said. “Every other industry has an association or group to stand up for their needs and we just don’t. Before, we were all competitors and didn’t have much to do with each other. Now, we are all working together to communicate our shared concerns and needs. I can’t say there has been an upside to COVID-19, but if there were, that would be it! Our working together like this is never going to go away.”
In her new role as an accidental lobbyist, it is Lipp-Stamp’s care for how others are coping that comes across most. She acknowledges that her position, and that of Joanne Lipp European Skin Care and Electrolysis, is unique. In part because she owns the property in which her business operates.
“I cannot imagine what it would be like if I had to carry an additional $6000 to $7000 in rent on top of all the other expenses while I can’t operate,” she said. “The fact is that I’ve been in this business for 40 years and I am not going to go under. It’s the single mom with two kids at home who relies on her esthetics business who is in dire straits. They can try to do what I am doing with my online shop and taking on all opportunities for professional and business development, but their kids are at home and they’re not earning any income. They need to figure out how to do it with all those extra barriers thrown in.”
There are two things Lipp-Stamp keeps in mind as she lobbies for her industry and her business.
“My parents lived through the Second World War, so I remind myself constantly that this little battle we are going through is not the worst thing,” she said. “And I have to credit how the community has our back. The City of Mississauga has been truly amazing.”
In particular, Lipp-Stamp credits the Streetsville Business Improvement Area for its constant communication and referrals to programs designed to help small businesses weather pandemic shut downs.
“And I cannot speak enough about the benefits of Digital Main Street,” Lipp-Stamp said.
“There is an online training of videos and lectures you have to take before you can apply and I must have made 10 pages of notes. I’ve been in business for a long time, but I didn’t even know what a KPI was! Then I had my sessions with Nayha [Mississauga Digital Service Squad Member] and I got into the program and I got the grant. With their help on my digital transformation plan, I am going to move to online booking after the shutdown is over and I am already moving forward with social media marketing and advertising.”
The accidental lobbyist does have advice for spa and salon owners, as well as other small business people of Mississauga.
“There really is so much help available,” Lipp-Stamp said. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to the City and to the BIAs who really are just waiting for your call. They will help you identify every cent that is available to us, every program that we have access to. Try to utilize this time to really take advantage of some of the opportunities that are out there. It’s an investment in your future.”
Digital Main Street is a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. This program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.
The Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC) is a business unit of the City of Mississauga’s Economic Development Office. MBEC is your central source for business information, resources and guidance. For information and guidance, our team is currently available to serve you remotely. Please contact us by phone or email.