These business owners are opening with confidence despite the pandemic

Opening a business at the best of times can be an anxiety-inducing experience but some businesses in Windsor and Essex County are choosing to open in the midst of a pandemic and they are doing so with confidence.

Salem Berhane's hair and beauty business is already booked until mid-September

Salem Berhane is opening her new new natural hair and beauty service this week and Lori Wightman is the lead bookseller at River Bookshop in Amherstburg which opened earlier this month. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Opening a business can be an anxiety-inducing experience at the best of times, but some new businesses in Windsor and Essex County are choosing to open in the midst of a pandemic — and are doing so with enthusiasm.

"I'm super confident. I'm super motivated," Salem Berhane said.

Berhane specializes in natural hairstyles and does not use any sort of chemicals, colouring or perms.

"I want people to embrace their natural hair," she says. It's a passion she's had for the past 20 years or so and while she has worked for others in the past, leading up to the pandemic, she worked as a home-based stylist. 

She couldn't work during Stage 1 of the province's re-opening because of the restrictions in place and chose not to during Stage 2, but she says during that time she was getting lots of inquiries for her services.

Salem Burhane is busy this week getting ready for the opening of her shop on Saturday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"I was just getting calls after calls to get their hair done." 

Because of the virus, she does not want to risk seeing clients at her house anymore but her passion for the job remained so she decided it was time to open a storefront.

"At first I was a little bit nervous but going in to a few stores, going to the mall and seeing that it's picked up and it's just as busy, I'm actually not nervous at all."

Her business, IncluSV Beauty Solutions opens this Saturday, and she says she's excited about it and already knows she'll be busy right out of the gate.

"We are already booked from Sept. 1 to Sept. 15, like back-to-back clients," she said.

"So the demand is there."

River Bookshop in Amherstburg was supposed to open in mid-June but ended up opening in mid-August because of the pandemic. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Taking a leap of faith

"I don't know that it's even believable that you would try and do this but life goes on," River Bookshop's Lori Wightman said of opening her store during a pandemic.

"We just kind of took the leap and... it's been really good." 

The new Amherstburg shop was originally slated to open in mid-June, but that was pushed back because of the pandemic. It opened up earlier this month and Wightman said so far business has been really good.

"People have been very receptive... They love the outside, they love the inside."

Lori Wightman is the lead bookseller at the newly-opened River Bookshop in Amherstburg (Jacob Barker/CBC)

She also said that people are reading more during the pandemic and that's a plus for her business but she says the most important thing they did to get the doors open comfortably is planning.

"Any business, if you can adapt and kind of pivot, depending on what you're doing, depending on the circumstances, I don't think there is any reason why you couldn't ride out this," she said.

Wightman said it was lucky her region moved into Stage 3 just before the shop opened but they'll be ready no matter which way things might turn in the near future.

"We're prepared if it should go either way, we'll just make the necessary changes so we can keep doing what we're doing."


Jacob Barker


Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.


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