THE RISING COST OF EVERYTHING: Wyoming Hairstylists Give Customers Fresh Looks Despite Increasing Costs for Products

Cheyenne stylist maintains positive attitude even with price hikes

By Ellen Fike

Special to the Wyoming Truth

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – In the 10 years she has been working as a hairstylist, Kristina Gebhardt has never seen prices skyrocket the way they have in the last two years.

“The companies will usually raise prices on our products at least once a year, but since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in 2020 until now, prices have jumped even more,” said Gebhardt, 30, a stylist at I.D, Underground salon in Cheyenne.

Hair foils used to be $15 per box. Now, a box is $25.

Pictured above is Kristina Gebhardt, a Cheyenne hairstylist who was forced to raise prices for her services after inflation drove steep increases in supply costs. (Courtesy photo from Kristina Gebhardt)

This does not even include the other costs hairstylists must factor in every month: the price of a chair rental, the increasing cost of chemical products and the real possibility that they will have to replace one of their staple items, such as scissors or a hair dryer, just to name a few. I.D. Underground is a booth rental salon, meaning that all of the stylists who work there hold independent contractor licenses and pay booth rent monthly for their spaces in the salon.

“As independent contractors, we’re responsible for providing all of our own tools, supplies and products,” Gebhardt said.

Since ID Underground sells few retail items like luxurious shampoos and conditioners to help offset some of the rising costs, Gebhardt and her fellow stylists have raised their prices for services to try to break even on their expenses.

“It’s tough, because you know the prices aren’t ever going to go back down,” she said.

Gebhardt and the Cheyenne stylists are not alone. A quick Google search shows countless stories of hairstylists and barbers across the nation being forced to increase their prices or even shutter completely because of the 40-year high inflation gripping the U.S. 

And the price hikes do not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month that the costs for goods and services in the U.S. increased by an additional 0.4 percent in September, making prices 8.5% higher than one year ago.

The announcement of a price increase for Gebhardt’s services has not always been met with positive reactions.

“Customers don’t understand that if we don’t raise our prices, then we’re losing money,” she said. “We’re not raising our prices to get rich. We’re raising our prices to break even.”

She has even noticed that some customers have started taking more time between appointments due to rising costs at the salon. But some services, such as haircuts, haven’t been hit nearly as hard as ones that involve chemicals, like blonding.

Gebhardt tries to be judicious about her decisions to raise prices at the salon, keeping a spreadsheet of all of her products and what services she offers to properly track expenses. The cost of supplies has shot up about 10%, which is around the same amount she increased her price for services.

“I find myself purchasing just the amount that will get me by, even though I used to be the person who would stock up on those same items,” Gebhardt said.

But she still worries, because if prices continue to rise, especially in such a short amount of time, she might be forced to make more drastic decisions.

“A lot of hairdressers have been quitting the industry, and affordability is a really big part of that,” she said. “I’ve even thought about quitting, especially in the last year. But I have no idea what I would do if I quit and that’s why I haven’t.”

But she loves what she does. She gets a thrill out of sitting someone in her chair and getting to know them for a little while. It’s an art, taking a person’s hair into your hands and making it look great.

So even though customers might be frustrated at Gebhardt’s rising costs for services, she said that talking with them about the reasoning behind the hike is usually met with understanding.

“It’s been a really hard time for everyone, so we all kind of feel like we’re in this together,” Gebhardt said. “It’s actually a nice feeling, us all knowing we’re not alone in this.”

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