Louisiana spa finds new identity during the pandemic


NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO) — As businesses continue on through the COVID-19 pandemic, some are doing some soul-searching and making some surprising choices to stay afloat and stay safe. One of the hardest hit industries is the spa industry.

The International Spa Association conducted a study back in March that found at the time, 80 percent of spas have closed their doors and 66 percent of spa revenue went down by 50 percent.

Akil Mitchell is the co-owner of a well-known wellness shop on historic Bayou Road in New Orleans and like all of the spas in the city, had to close through phase one of the city’s reopening process and says, “It was rough, not being able to get up and follow your passion and do the thing that you love to do so much. Not just me, but the rest of the world. We had services such as acupuncture and massages. Those services consist of constant touching. For the safety of our staff and customers we discontinued those services, now that we are back open. It was scary for us because we saw how real it was.”

For two years, Egos Gentleman Spa offered an assortment of spa services and was the first spa in New Orleans designed specifically for men. It was opened to promote wellness among men, who don’t ordinarily take the time out to take care of themselves when compared to women. Akil says, part of successfully promoting health and wellness is sending the right message during the pandemic. For the time being, Egos will only provide hair services.

However, as customers return to the shop, Akil sees them transition from stay at home order hair to seeing a bit of themselves return as they were before the pandemic.

“Many of my customers said, we are going to wait until this thing is over with, but you should see how i look! I see some clients walk right by me and I didn’t know it was them. When they see themselves after three to four months, It definitely makes me feel good to have them look in the mirror and see themselves how they once used to be be,” says Akil.

The barbershop has always been a place of conversation and a place to solve the world’s problems, all while looking better. After weeks of staying at home without a haircut, there is certainly a lot to talk about.

Part of Egos’ change includes a name change for the shop. What was once Egos Gentleman Spa, is now, Grooming at it’s Finest Barber and Beauty Salon. However despite the changes, they say they would like to one day offer the spa services they use to have. Next year they hope to evaluate safety concerns.

Akil believes that there was simply no choice but the right one saying, “I wanted to get out and get right back into it, but I’m glad I didn’t because there are some people that work in our profession that lost their lives.”

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