Month: February 2021

Spotlight: Haircuts, Lockdown and Local Business

You’ve heard the message many times during the COVID lockdown: support local businesses. It’s become an everyday slogan – but behind the constant reminder, what’s really driving this message? In this Q+A we take a look at the impacts of lockdown on local businesses from the other side – the perspective of an independent business owner.

In 2019, Salon Scavo – a locally operated and independent salon – celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. In the beauty industry that’s a big milestone and no one was prouder than owner Gianfranco Scavo, who celebrated alongsode his talented staff and loyal customers, marking the occasion with a grand re-opening at Yonge and St. Clair. Nobody would have thought that just a year later, Salon Scavo, along with small businesses everywhere, would face the toughest fight of the lives – for their livelihoods. 

Marylene Vestergom is a freelance writer and marketing professional, she has generously conducted and contributed this Q+A to the Yonge + St. Clair BIA.

Please note that salon services remain closed at the time of this article’s publishing, in accordance with Ontario public health measures.

Yonge + St. Clair: How has COVID-19 impacted your business?

Gianfranco Scavo: There are no words to describe it. It has not been easy. No one planned for this – how could you? The first shut down last March, we quickly took steps to ensure our salon implemented the highest hygiene and sterilization protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health, keeping the health and safety of our employees and clients top-of-mind. This, of course, wasn’t new to us, but we took it to the next level. We are fortunate our clients have returned, but we know the routine is different. Now in 2021 we are awaiting the next re-opening and will do our best to make the salon an experience that eases [clients] into this new norm. We are here for our clients and we are eagerly waiting to see everyone again.

Y+S: How did it impact your employees? 

GS: When we first closed, our stylists were sending messages of hope and well-wishes to our clients on Instagram. It was incredible to see the response and the connection. They miss their clients. 

Y+S: What did your clients miss? What did you miss?

GS: They wanted to look and feel like themselves again. And we miss their smiles. During the last re-opening, with everyone wearing masks, the eyes became the windows to the soul. The eyes say everything!

Y+S: What were the latest styles or trends before the lockdown came back?  

GS: Hair takes a cue from nature. So during the past fall for example, the warmer tones of hazel, caramel and spicy reds were making a subtle appearance. It’s a great way to transition from the beachy blonde of summer. The key is being subtle about the colour transition – just like the fall leaves. Balayage allows our colourist to paint in these beautiful tones, which catch the light. So, it’s not an all-over colour – it provides dimensions with soft-focused roots. And with texturizing and a bit of layering – your hair will come alive. 

Y+S: What products would you recommend?

GS: With many clients who will be coming back to the salon in the near future, we’ve noticed their hair requires an intervention. Once salons are open again, it’s the perfect time to treat your hair and we have a wonderful selection of hair treatments for all hair types. If you need any recommendations, we are here to guide you through which would best suit your needs. The result – shiny, healthier hair.

Y+S: Is it a cut or a trim?

GS: It’s all about low maintenance and being natural. In other words, work with what you have but accentuate it. We know a few clients who have tried colouring their hair at home and even attempted to cut their hair – the results were not surprising. Clients now understand that a colourist at our salon is an artist. They come by this experience not by accident and that’s why they can make the colouring look natural; when your hair grows out – it still looks great. An at home mistake can be costly, instead we suggest giving us a call once we’ve reopened.  

Y+S: What makes the Yonge + St. Clair neighbourhood special?

GS: This is a tightly knit community. Businesses and customers alike support one another. 

Y+S: Any last words as we wish for a reopening soon?

GS: In regards to COVID-19, it’s important we don’t let down our guard. As a small business owner who provides employment to our team that allows them to feed their families, pay rent etc., we appreciate and look forward to the days that we can be open.  To our loyal clients – we are glad they are part of the Salon Scavo family.  

Most importantly, we would like to thank the frontline workers at all levels who continue to do their job, who help us re-open and be safe. Please – wear your masks, wash your hands and maintain social distancing. Our community at Yonge + St. Clair depends on you.

Salon Scavo is located at 1470 Yonge Street or or call 416-964-1229

Please note that salon services remain closed at the time of this article’s publishing, in accordance with Ontario public health measures.

Spotlight: Dr. Stephanie Bot, Humour and Lockdown Fever

In this Q+A Spotlight we chat with psychologist Dr. Stephanie Bot (C. Psych., Psychoanalyst), who is the president of Workright, an organization based at Yonge + St. Clair that provides online mental health, communication, relationship and interpersonal skills courses for businesses and individuals. 

With the ongoing COVID lockdowns and the significant changes it represents to both individuals and businesses, the Yonge + St. Clair BIA explores how Workright is taking a traditionally in-person professional service to a digital platform. 

Yonge + St. Clair BIA: It’s 2021. The COVID lockdown is still the everyday norm. What’s your team looking to bring to folks using the Workright online platform and service?

Dr. Stephanie Bot: Well let’s start with a bit of background – Last weekend a patient reached out because he was in crisis.  There was no specific causal event.  He just didn’t feel he could cope anymore with being “locked-up”.  For many people this lockdown may keep them physically safe but mentally their resilience, tolerance and mood are on the decline while their anxiety, loneliness and restlessness are on the rise.  People try to reassure each other that the vaccine creates a light for the future but as numbers of cases remain high, the vaccine somewhat unavailable and the bleakness of winter prevails, this lockdown is taking its toll on mental health.  

It’s a tough time for many. So as far as this platform goes and our team’s role – we empathize, and we offer the tools and expertise to instill a sense of hope that this too shall pass.  

Y+SC: Can you tell us more about the challenges you help people face?  

Dr. B: Well, back to the patient who reached out in crisis. He shared something that deeply saddened me.  Since COVID restrictions started in March 2020 when he switched from working in a vibrant midtown office space with hundreds of employees to doing work alone in a virtual world from his one bedroom condo, not one person in his workplace has checked in with him or asked how he’s doing.  

We need to do better than this.  Working in the land of Zoom requires greater effort to check-in, to let people know they’re cared about and that they matter.  The incredible thing about doing this is it will actually help us feel better about ourselves.  We are part of a global community that is suffering but we need to think local, our families, our friends, our workmates…check in with them.  Ask how they’re managing.  Share lockdown stories.  Find humour we can all relate to in these groundhog days.  Connection, even brief, can make a huge difference.  Don’t underestimate your potential to positively impact someone else’s life and in turn elevate your own.

Y+SC: Would you have any simple personal advice for people who looking to lighten the mood in their everyday?  

Dr. B: Well it’s not all bleak. If I can share a personal strategy that might sound a bit crazy: in between sessions these days, I’ll put on bold inspiring music like James Brown’s “Get on off of that thing and dance ‘til you feel better” and I’m dancing and singing and being as silly as I want for 5 to 10 minutes. Letting go in this way completely transforms my energy and state of mind.  And I’m recommending this to all my patients.  Whether your dance party is solo or with people you live with, I promise it will shake you out of your Lockdown Funk and help you feel alive and free again.  My prescription is to do this at least once a day and if you find yourself feeling low, just try it…it can’t hurt.

Y+SC: So would you say a sense of humour with the right approach is key?

Dr. B: That’s what we’re looking to accomplish here.

Ask Dr. B.


We’ve asked Dr. Bot to share some insight into some of the approaches that she and the Workright team have offered to patients and clients during the lockdown. 

Dr. B: Here’s one scenario: “My boyfriend and I just started living together in a tiny condo when COVID hit.  It’s been really hard. We both have to work from home and are never apart. We’re arguing more, getting on each other’s nerves and are not finding each other attractive lately. What should I do?”

Well, it’s not healthy for a relationship when people are together all day every day in close quarters. Here are 5 suggestions to help:

Define individual time and space.  We all need alone time.  When your partner goes for a walk or grocery shopping, plan for an hour or two of personal time to use the space and time to do something for you (not cleaning or laundry).  Do things that bring you happiness, such as reading, meditating, painting…and create this same opportunity for your partner.

Schedule relationship time.  Plan regular dinner dates. Prepare a special meal together or create a “date night” meal for your partner to treat them.  Dress up, light the candles, dance.

Do something for others.  We feel better when we help others.  Consider preparing a larger portion of your meal once a week and dropping it off for a person living alone.  Or purchasing extra food when you shop and providing it to a local food bank. Do this with your partner if possible to create a shared experience.

Be mindful of your partner’s needs.  It’s hard to live in close quarters 24/7 with anyone.  Your partner is under stress too.  Err on side of giving each other the benefit of the doubt.  Be aware of what you do that could be bothering your partner.  This is not a time to be critical.  Lockdown has placed a tall order on patience and tolerance but those are virtues we need to expand within ourselves in this crisis.

Have fun. Couples need to let off steam. Do something you enjoy that does not include watching a screen. Play a board game.  Have a dance party together.  Throw caution to the wind and get your sillies out.  If you don’t have a willing partner dance around by yourself.

Dr. B: Remember, in the words a Victor Frankl, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is a normal reaction.” This will end.  In the meantime, remember everyone is under high stress and struggling to put their best selves forward as parents, as partners, and as individuals. Focus on being kind and thoughtful, to ourselves and those in our circle.

Y+SC: Where can people access your platform or get in touch?

Dr. B: You can find Workright’s courses at We currently have a few online COVID care kits:

1 month access

3 month access

1 Year access

And check out Workright’s online COVID Care Kit of 12 courses.  Enter Branch Code: workright

Dr. Stephanie Bot and Associates is located at 1504 Yonge St., 3rd floor. Phone: (416) 485-5243.