U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) met with the owner of aSPArations Salon and Day Spa in Marshalltown to talk policy and issues surrounding the small business community.
Hinson asked owner Tasha Schnathorst questions about how her business has worked to return after closure and how they recovered when Marshalltown was hit with natural disasters.
Schnathorst’s business survived an eight-week shutdown amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and said she has managed to bounce back from the added effects of the 2018 tornado and 2020 derecho.
She said the salon is fortunate to have already doubled its sales from last year.
“We were a little nervous if people were going to come back,” Schnathorst said. “I was here when the governor released us to open, and I don’t think she even got the words out of her mouth before our phones started ringing off the hook.”
While the tornado caused minimal damage to the building, Schnathorst said the derecho was a different story. She said she lost an estimated $35,000 of business due to the derecho.
“People were just cleaning up, people didn’t have money and were having to cancel because insurance adjusters were coming,” Schnathorst said. “Part of it was also our employees, they needed time to take care of their homes.”
Hinson asked Schnathorst what more is needed and how she can help.
Schnathorst said the biggest issue affecting her business is how tips are taxed for salon workers.
“The restaurant industry doesn’t have to pay taxes on their tips, but as a salon owner I do,” Schnathorst said.
She supports extending the 45B FICA Tax Tip Credit to include salons as well as restaurants.
While the salon has not lost many employees due to the pandemic, Schnathorst shared she is feeling the effects of the current workforce shortage.
She said she should increase her workforce by 50 percent if she could find more licensed and skilled candidates.
As a means to attract more workers, she said she is against getting rid of licensure and Hinson agreed.
“Experience does make a difference, but I also believe in making sure the person you’re going to is skilled and can certify that they have those skills,” Hinson said.
Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) funding was a big help during the pandemic Schnathorst said, but knows other small Marshalltown businesses are still in trouble.
“I know somehow we hit the jackpot and we’ve been so fortunate with our recovery, a lot of people are still struggling,” Schnathorst said.
She said a lot of people don’t think making it in the salon industry is doable.
“We’re on track to make six figures this year,” Schnathorst said. “When I opened eight years ago, people were like, ‘That’s not possible.’ We’re showing them yeah it is.”
Part of the success of her business is the salon offers a variety of services not available elsewhere within a 45-minute drive radius, drawing most of her customers from Marshall County.
She also said the amount of men receiving spa services is increasing.
“Across Iowa’s First Congressional District and at aSPArations in Marshalltown, it’s clear that it’s back to business as small businesses are on the road to recovery. Yet even as shops reopen, challenges remain for small business owners like Tasha,” Hinson said. “Common sense policies, like expanding PPP eligibility, increasing access to capital for small businesses, exploring ways the Small Business Administration can further assist main street businesses and working to address our labor shortage, which will help small business owners like Tasha, will remain a priority for me in Congress.”
Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or [email protected]