The fight against Covid-19 among self-employed British Asian workers
Unique, an Asian clothing store in Bedford says bridal outfits are the mainstay of their sales.
Additionally, Deep Bajwa runs Opulence Events, an event planning company, and expressed concern:
“Last year I had 37 weddings, and this year we managed to organize one before the lockdown.”
A lot of money is spent on Asian British weddings. The rules caused by Covid-19 have had huge implications for the livelihoods of vendors, caterers, beauty professionals and designers.
Beauty industry left in limbo
Many small businesses in the UK beauty industry are self-employed.
Many even operate from the comfort of their own homes.
Surprisingly, beauty professionals have lost more than Â£ 11,000 in prize money during Covid-19.
5% of all salon owners, beauticians and hairdressers who went out of business during the pandemic plan to continue or restart their current operations now that the restrictions have been lifted in 2021.
Surprisingly, only 26% said they were eligible for the leave scheme throughout the various lockdowns.
This results in thousands of people across the country struggling to keep their small businesses alive.
Alan Thomas, UK Managing Director of Simply business affirms:
âThe hairdressing and beauty industry was particularly hard hit last year.
“The magnitude of the impact on small businesses and the self-employed is very clear in our latest research.”
However, despite the challenges, many believe the industry is strong and will rebound. Since the salons reopened, many have paid extra just to secure a coveted date.
Hair and makeup
Zara Hussain, a West Midlands-based makeup artist and esthetician, lamented her loss of business, revealing:
“Not making money, losing my customers, having trouble paying your bills, all lead to depression and anxiety.”
The feeling of worry is rife throughout the beauty industry.
The wedding cancellations were a huge blow to Zara’s job as a wedding makeup artist as she lost countless bookings:
“I lost a lot of reservations and struggled to keep an organized agenda due to the uncertainty and cancellations.”
Additionally, Zara believes the UK government “handled everything very badly” as she talks about the changes with a touch of melancholy:
âI don’t get as many party bookings due to smaller weddings and people decide to prepare themselves.
âSo many people have had to close their businesses and sell to pay their bills and debts that this pandemic has brought them into. “
This highlights the devastating nature that the Covid-19 has caused on businesses but also the mental state of the self-employed.
Independent Henna Company
Likewise, the Yorkshire-based henna company, The final touch, also believes that the government has made mistakes.
Founder Juwairiyya specializes in body art and making personalized gifts that incorporate the theme and designs of henna.
Juwairiyya says she has “lost income” and circumstances have stunted the growth of her business. As a self-employed worker, this kept her from building up a clientele for a year.
âWith henna, you have to maintain the practice because it is an art.
âAs far as my events go, I haven’t been able to do henna on people but have attended a few online events where I have talked about henna.â
However, his self-employed status has restarted since the restrictions were eased. Unfortunately, the workload is still scarce compared to the time before the pandemic.
Urban and desi evenings paused
DESIblitz caught up Echo events who organize an urban Desi party called âFusion Nightsâ.
Fusion Nights started in 2017, originally in Nottingham.
Fortunately, they were very successful and have since spread to cities like Birmingham, Leicester, Portsmouth and Bristol.
Over the years, Echo Events began to under-brand as Fusion Nights ‘Bollywood Edition’ and Fusion Nights ‘Lounge Edition’.
However, this company was one of many with immediate concerns in early 2020.
A spokesperson for the company explained:
âDuring the first lockdown, our immediate concerns were with the idea that we are a relatively small business and not knowing how long this lockdown would last.â
Additionally, the lack of information was confusing:
“For the first few weeks there was no information about the hospitality and entertainment industry which was frustrating.”
Asked about the effects of canceling clubs and events, they explained:
âWe had prepaid room rental fees, DJs and live shows in some venues.
“They only allowed us to move dates and not offer a full refund.”
Unfortunately, they feel that the government has provided inadequate financial assistance. This lack of guidance left their Desi parties on hiatus, with no real indication of when to restart.
Echo Events had to adapt their rules as different parts of the UK were placed in different level systems.
To meet government guidelines, household bubbles cannot mix and food should be served with any purchased alcohol.
Therefore, due to the increase in cases in some parts of the country, the “night trips” have been canceled or postponed to future dates.
Customers were offered a full refund if any of the Fusion Nights were canceled “due to city restrictions.”
This represents the financial loss that businesses continue to face without any real indication of government assistance.
Covid-19 and the food industry
Self-employed workers in the food industry have also suffered a severe blow from Covid-19.
Fluctuating regulations have forced many restaurants to offer delivery or take-out options.
When the rules started to loosen, establishments could reopen if they had an outdoor dining area, but some restaurants could not.
Blue Monk, an Indian and Nepalese restaurant based in Bedford, illustrated its difficulty in dealing with Covid-19 restrictions.
Since they don’t have an outside dining area, they have relied heavily on delivery and take-out, but profits have fallen dramatically.
However, they ensured that there was “more space between tables, disinfectants on each table and floor marking over distances of 2m”.
Regardless, business has not grown as much as it would like, as people are still cautious of potential exposure to the virus.
As an independent home-based business specializing in desserts, Noori immediately became concerned about its stock, saying:
âDue to the chaos, supermarkets were all running out of essentials as customers panicked.
âThe fact that all weddings had to be canceled / postponed caused me a lot of loss as I pre-order material for specific custom orders. This meant that I couldn’t even reuse the products I had purchased.
In addition, she believes that “the government has not helped or supported small businesses like us much.”
As a small community, there weren’t a lot of clear guidelines or help to help self-employed people.
Noori notes that she feared she would have to close “due to the uncertainty of whether we will ever get back to normal.”
“With all the cancellations, all the losses, all the stress, I doubted it was all worth it.”
Fortunately, during the second lockdown, Cupcakes business increased.
Noori started doing contactless deliveries as a precaution, like many other companies.
Clearly, many British Asian independent companies have had to adapt during this pandemic.
With the government’s plans to return to “normalcy” on June 21, 2021, optimism is growing among the self-employed sector.
Although many businesses are still moving with caution due to the discovery of different variants of Covid-19 across the UK.
With that, the government could suddenly decide to postpone the proposed unlock date, which could prove catastrophic for some companies.
However, companies such as Cupaacakes and Echo Events that have successfully adapted offer a model of relief for those who struggle.
It shows that with courage, determination and perseverance, independents can triumph over this hideous crisis.