The Professional Beauty Federation of California Sues the State


In the early days of the COVID threat, our licensed professionals embraced federal and state calls for lockdowns to “flatten the contagion curve” so as to “not overwhelm our hospitals” and to keep our clients and co-workers safe.

But as the days, weeks and months progressed, and as not a single hospital (outside of downtown NYC) was ever overwhelmed by COVID patients, some within our industry began to question the duration of the shutdown.  

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Their frustration only grew as we all sat back and watched so-called “essential” businesses continuing on without any disruption of their businesses, including many — like home improvement retailers — actually experiencing a dramatic spike in patronage.

Then President Trump turned a corner in late April and began calling upon States to begin responsibly reopening their economies.  Almost every Governor eventually came out with their own, individual reopening phases.

We understood that our state’s nearly 600,000 licensees and over 53,000 licensed establishments would be tempted by desperate clientele in need of colors, cuts, mani/pedi’s and skin care, and that many of our licensed professionals would feel compelled to go underground rather than face the real possibility of bankruptcy.  

We also feared that such a groundswell of illegal activity could undermine the very foundation of state licensure and oversight, which could erode the overall professionalism of our industry.  In addition, the legality of these prolonged lockdowns and their shelter-in-place orders were highly dubious, even during a fearful pandemic.

Having exhausted all political and diplomatic channels, and observing the continued, flat contagion curve and decreasing death rates, we openly wondered who would stand against this prolonged injustice and the potential cratering-out of our industry’s licensing professionalism.

Nobody rose to our industry’s defense.  Not international or national trade associations; not multinational corporate brands and franchises; nobody.  

In fact some industry influencers continued to embrace the seemingly never-ending lockdown, fearful that if we confronted our state leaders, we’d be perceived as prioritizing profits over client safety.

So we decided our state organization had no choice but to stand tall, beginning with filing a lawsuit against our State in federal court on May 12.  We also kicked off a concerted #OpenSalonsNow campaign, utilizing our legal challenge as the media hook.  

The results speak for themselves.  But for those who weren’t following our successful legal and PR campaign, here is a summary of our Governor’s retreat in reopening hair salons, published two weeks following our injunctive filing:

Gov Newsom Capitulates to PBFC

— An edited version of this column ran in the California Stylist magazine:

CA Stylist Beauty Professional Column

Originally published here.