It’s during the most difficult days of our lives that we’ll know exactly who we are and who we want to be.
At least, this is how Jana Pedro, president and founder of Buffed Wellness, Inc., realized her purpose. When the pandemic locked the country down, it took away with it Jana’s primary livelihood: her nail spa. Buffed was only one-year old then with one branch in Bonifacio Global City. And for a business that relies on physical contact to thrive, the pandemic was all sorts of disheartening.
“The first lockdown in March 2020 was a time of uncertainty. Looking back, it was such a painful time that didn't seem to have an ending. And there’s no handbook for that, right? You can’t just Google what to do,” Jana says. “It meant zero revenue and net loss, and I didn’t know how long that net loss would last.”
Jana was a finance employee before she decided to invest in her own brand and establish Buffed. As someone who’s adept in numbers, Jana knows very well what she’s getting herself into. The beauty industry is valued at more than $500 billion globally and is on a rapid upward trajectory. It’s an investment Jana knew will pay off.
When she started operations, Jana also knew that single-handedly establishing her own business does not come without a challenge. It doesn’t just end with finding a location, bringing in equipment, and training people. She understood that by putting up a business, she’s subjecting herself to public feedback and criticism. And for what it’s worth, Jana was ready to take on the responsibility that comes with being a business owner.
But everything Jana was prepared for was quickly challenged because of the pandemic.
“Why was I given this opportunity if it’s just going to be taken away from me?” Jana ponders on.
“I didn’t know what to do. I started questioning if taking the path less travelled was worth it,” Jana admits. “Should I still keep going? Is this my purpose? Why was I given this opportunity if it’s just going to be taken away from me?”
The Beginning of a Beautiful Transformation
Despite all the uncertainty, Jana found the strength to keep going.
The first thing she did was to make sure that her employees were safe.
“I am proud to say that even before the [government declared a] lockdown, we already closed the store,” Jana recalls. “It was such an uncertain time. But I sent my employees home days before the lockdown. Because for me, health comes first no matter what the cost is. More importantly, my employees come first. They’re the foundation of the business. They’re my number one priority.”
With 90% of her employees being single moms and 20% being people with disabilities (PWDs), Jana didn’t just stop at keeping her people safe. Even though the salon was closed and there were operational expenses to be taken care of, she also made sure that her employees had enough to live by. She did her best to provide for her people and let them know that they’ll always have a job to go back to.
For her, making personal sacrifices was painful, but it was an easy decision to make because she’s doing it for the people who believed in her since day one.
“I didn’t want them to go on without allowance for such a long time,” Jana tells us, saying that being the anchor for her people during the pandemic is what she’s most proud of. For her, making personal sacrifices was painful, but it was an easy decision to make because she’s doing it for the people who believed in her since day one.
If anything, the pandemic reminded Jana of the true reason why she powers through and allowed her to reconnect with her purpose: her employees. These people are who really helped her get this far.
“I’m very thankful for my employees because interviewing them [back then] was like selling something that doesn’t even exist yet,” Jana recalls. “I was asking them to invest their time and their life in my brand that was non-existent at that time. So I’m thankful that they invested in me [and that] they put their bet on me. Now, I’m doing the same with them.”
Jana saw what felt like the lowest point of her life as a beautiful transformation, saying that it was also the time when Buffed transformed from being a monetary-driven business into a passion-and-purpose-driven business. It was when they became a family because that’s when they really helped each other.
“I still believe we’re still in the process of transformation [and] that it’s going to lead to something beautiful.”
“I still believe we’re still in the process of transformation [and] that it’s going to lead to something beautiful,” Jana says. “But the hardest part is over when we really have no idea what’s to come. At least right now, with the vaccine, there’s hope. And with the help of mindfulness, I'm personally learning how to respond with uncertainty and anxiety. That's how I claim my power amidst the adversity,” she adds.
To this day, Buffed Nail Lounge employees are 100% vaccinated.
The Rebirth of Buffed
When Buffed first reopened in June last year, she gathered her employees to a meeting and made sure that everyone understood how important safety is.
“We actually had a talk when we hadn't reopened yet,” she recalls. “I want to set the bar for nail salons in terms of safety.”
At Buffed, they went above and beyond by utilizing their big space to add a few meters for social distancing and going digital as much as they can.
It was not enough for Jana and her team to just add disinfecting mats, wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and strictly implement safety protocols. At Buffed, they went above and beyond by utilizing their big space to add a few meters for social distancing and going digital as much as they can.
“We went beyond to be able to provide a safe place for the employees and the clients. And it pays off,” Jana says. “It can be costly, but when our clients appreciate our efforts and come back to us because they feel safe with us, then I know it's worth it.”
“Our mantra, even before the pandemic, is it’s not just about beauty, it’s about care,” the Buffed girl boss says. Her mission has always been about providing care to everyone—men and women, whatever their profession is.
Self-care is the new normal
As a business owner and one of the driving forces of the beauty industry, Jana saw that people have learned to appreciate and love themselves even more during the pandemic. People have come to realize that “self-care is more than just prettifying or beautifying ourselves. It’s about our mental health. It’s about appreciating ourselves for trying to survive and doing our best. It's about our overall well-being,” she says.
And it’s true. Pre-pandemic, the hustle culture has been injected into the DNA of the lives of many that we don’t realize our hands and feet are actually our body parts that work hard the most.
Self-care is more than just prettifying or beautifying ourselves. It’s about our mental health. It’s about appreciating ourselves for trying to survive and doing our best. It's about our overall well-being.
But with all the self-isolation we went through during the past year, people are starting to prioritize health and wellness. Jana believes that salons play an important role in helping people take care of themselves now and beyond the pandemic. “If you give yourself the self-love and self-care you deserve, you become an even better provider, a better leader, a better member—of your team, of your family, and even of the society,” she says.
To Jana, this realization comes from a place of gratitude. “The pandemic taught me to become grateful and appreciative of what we have in life,” she says. During her toughest times, she found beauty in appreciating the biggest and smallest things. “When you’re grateful for everything, abundance just comes into your life.”
When asked about what we, as customers, can do to help salons bounce back, Jana had a simple answer: be kind.
“We don’t just want to go back to normal. We want to have a better normal where everyone is kinder,” she says.
So next time you go to a salon, remember that you’re not just about to be pampered or relaxed. You also help owners like Jana fulfill their purpose and provide jobs for the people who care for you.
Visit Buffed Nail Lounge at 2F, Eight Forbes Town Road, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig from 10AM to 9PM. Buffed Nail Lounge will soon open its doors at SM Megamall - Mega Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong, too! Check out Buffed Nail Lounge’s Parlon page to know more of the services they offer. You may also support Jana by visiting Ethos Day Spa, her newest beauty venture, in Angeles, Pampanga.