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'The way forward': Charlotte hairstylist requires COVID-19 vaccine for all customers

A Charlotte hairstylist said she felt a responsibility to protect her clients, driving her decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all customers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte hairstylist is now requiring all of her clients to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

We’ve seen big companies go down this path, but now some small business owners are feeling free to follow suit. The stylist said she wants to make sure her salon is as safe as possible so she’s made this difficult decision.

After more than 40 years in the business, Swooz Brazzell said the last 18 months have been the toughest.

"It was a roller coaster, it's been a little scary for all of us," Brazzell said. 

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Now she's starting down another bumpy road by making what she felt was the tough call to only allow vaccinated clients at her salon. 

"It’s a matter of proximity, it's not political. It's not a judgment, it's just a matter of proximity," Brazzell said. "I cannot be face-to-face within inches of unvaccinated people any longer."

Brazzell said it's as much a move for her as it is for her clients and said she doesn’t know of any other stylists making similar moves yet but expects others won’t be far behind.

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"It feels great," she said. "For my existing clients, it feels like a new beginning and it feels like this is the name of the game. This is the way forward in this industry."

Other industries are already requiring proof of vaccination. A handful of bars and music venues around Charlotte started the trend about a month ago. 

Brazzell has owned her salon for 21 years and some clients have been with her the whole time. She felt a responsibility to protect her clients.

"I only have a handful of unvaccinated clients," Brazzell said. "And it just became an issue of favoring those who just couldn’t take the chance and genuinely say I have done every single thing I can do to minimize risk in my salon and it was the only missing element."

She is losing revenue but expects to gain in the long run.

"For every non-vaccinated client that won’t be here, there’s a lot of people standing behind them looking for a safe place to go," she said. 

Brazzell said her unvaccinated clients actually took the news well, they understood and respected her decision.

Michelle Boudin: Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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