It is of no surprise that COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live our lives and conduct our business. We are constantly adapting and reevaluating our strategies to provide quality service and products in a timely manner. That being said, the obstacles of dealing with international production and shipments during a pandemic has proven to be an immense uphill climb for vendors and hair replacement salons alike, not too mention the end user, the hair wearer.
The vast majority of hair pieces are either manufactured and or originate from China and Indonesia. That being said, China has a very different cultural way of conducting business during their holiday season than we do here in the west.
Chinese New Year: Spring Festival
2021 Chinese New Year | Year of the Ox
Starting on the 12th of February, and lasting 15 days, China is observing the Lunar Festivities (Chinese New Year). The Spring Festival is a national holiday for the general public. This means that schools, universities, government offices, and most businesses are closed during this time. That being said, some businesses such as banks will often arrange for employees to take shifts working to provide essential services. Additionally, public transport is still available during the period of the Chinese New Year.
Over the course of the holiday, many people take this time to clean their homes to welcome the Spring Festival. They put up the red posters with poetic verses on their doors, pictures to commemorate Chinese New Year on their walls, and their homes are decorated with red lanterns. It is also an opportunity to visit and reunite with family at this time of the year. Many people set off fireworks and firecrackers in the evening of the Spring Festival. Doing this in the hopes of casting away any bad luck and welcoming in good luck. Speaking of luck, the children will often receive “luck” money during this time. People will often wear new clothes and send greetings to one another to celebrate the new year. The festivities also include beating drums and striking gongs which is typically followed by dragon and lion dances to celebrate the Lunar Festival.
Chinese Emperor Shun
According to historical documents, on the day when Shun, who was one of ancient China’s mythological emperors, came to the throne more than 4000 years ago, he led his ministers to worship heaven and earth. From that moment on, that day was regarded as the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This is the basic origin of Chinese New Year. China adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911, so Chinese New Year was renamed the Spring Festival.
All in all, this is an important observance in Chinese culture and history. In the U.S., there are no national holidays that require closed government offices, schools, universities, and business for more than a single day at a time. Even so, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day are the only holidays that we observe that involve the majority of our businesses closing up shop. Because of this difference, it can greatly affect work production and shipment during The Lunar Festival between China and, essentially, anyone they are doing business with either nationally or internationally. That means no hair or hair product production from China, during this time, as well as no shipping until the end of the holiday either. This happens on many occasions and most people here in the US, unfortunately, do not understand that, let alone the impact on those orders.
What makes this even more challenging, is with the pandemic in full swing, we are already experiencing delays and back orders that in some cases are over 10 months in the making. Keep in mind that normally (prior to the pandemic) the longest we may have to wait for a back order is three months, and now we are at 10+ months. Not to mention the supply chain has been distributed and selection of hair and options like color, density, base design etc., are all in high demand and short supply. When you throw in the mix a holiday like the Lunar Festivities, and you’ve got the makings of a financial business disaster from some salons who are already on the verge of collapse from the pandemic, it can be a recipe for a disaster cocktail in the making.
The solution is not simply to degrade another culture and their holiday for being an inconvenience to our own. But rather acknowledging and respecting the culture and knowing that no business involving production and shipment may be conducted during this time. Fortunately, there is much that can be done preemptively to prepare for the lack of business during this time.
Staying Up to Date with the Holidays
One of the best ways to stay afloat during this time is to take into consideration that this holiday is happening and will be an annual occurrence. Knowing and even acknowledging this information is vital to the success of the hair business. Having this information, we not only can inform our staff but we can also let our customers know that hair production and shipments from China will be inaccessible during that time.
With the combined efforts of our customers, staff, and vendors having this knowledge, it is much more feasible to order products needed, prior to this holliday and help reduce the amount of orders that are 10+ months on back order. That being said, will there be requests for orders made during the Lunar Festival? Absolutely! Just because we increase our efforts does not mean that the problem will be solved in its entirety. But if we adapt and keep our clients and employees in the know about this obstacle, we can lessen this issue. Plus over time, and post pandemic, the work flow of productivity should be able to navigate through this holiday with much more ease as salons and their patrons become more aware of this obstacle.
It is worth noting that the Chinese National Holiday dates do change from year to year. Staying up to date with the information about the present years holiday dates and making them accessible either on location or online will be incredibly helpful in communicating this information. Below are the dates for all of the 2021 Chinese National Holidays.
2021 Chinese National Holiday Dates
- New Year’s Day January 1st – January 3rd
- Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) January 12th – January 26th
- Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping) April 3rd – April 5th
- Labor Day (May Day) May 1st – May 5th
- The Dragon Boat Festival June 12th – June 14th
- The Mid-Autumn Festival September 19th – September 21st
- National Day October 1st – October 7th
The good news is, that efforts to combat any offsets from the pandemic as well as preparing for the Lunar Festival are well underway. US vendor, Hair Visions International, based out of Fort Lauderdale Florida, is working tirelessly to get as many hair orders fulfilled as they can prior to this holiday while still navigating the very rough waters of an industry in crisis with the pandemic and the supply chain disruption. David M. Schwartz, The President of Hair Visions International, recently published the following letter addressing these concerns.
David Schwartz, CEO HairVisions International
“As we embark on a new year with its own set of exciting opportunities and challenges, we have to come to the realization that much of what undermined us in 2020 followed us into 2021. The fact of the matter is that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic which has, and continues to cause major disruptions to supply chains in many industries beyond our control. The hair industry is not mutually exclusive to the adverse effects of the pandemic and labor shortage.
On a positive note, our Indonesian factory continues to press forward with incremental progress in stock and custom production. The factory expects to increase production every month as they hire and train more workers. We are and will continue to pursue every available avenue to locate and acquire suitable stock units for your clients immediate needs. As much as I would like to have more good news to deliver, unfortunately, there has been very little improvement with production in the Chinese factories as the remote knotting areas are still in lockdown and we have also been informed of the China factory increases which will go in to effect April 1st. Hair Visions and its team understands entirely situations for all businesses and families are difficult during these trying times. Like you, our company struggles to work around the many challenges that face us because they are beyond our control. Despite all the obstacles ahead of us, we all must concentrate on how to endure and focus on what we can control.
Please understand, the cost of labor and materials is not in the control of any distributor. Price increases have already been announced by many distributors to their retailers as we’ve stated before, Hair Visions was absorbing many costs on your behalf, but we can no longer continue to absorb the factory increases. We recently announced a price increase effective April 1. Contrary to what you might think, rest assured, we are not increasing our prices for the sake of profits. We are passing along factory increases out of fiscal necessity.
We will continue pursuing other factories to prototype stock models in an effort to increase our inventory. However, this has been a complex and lengthy process.
For the sake of transparency, we suggest being proactive with your team and clients alike. ongoing communication and education with your staff and your clients are vital. Offering facts in an open dialogue regarding the delays and price increases can help ease future misunderstandings and prevent further frustration. We will continue to keep you posted with updates as we learn more.
Thank you for your understanding with the unprecedented situation and we appreciate your patience as Hair Visions storms through the uncharted course together with you. “
David M. Schwartz