"We just felt compelled to do something to help our fellow small business owners and employees."
A Toronto salon is giving laid-off workers a ray of optimism in hard times with free haircuts and discounted services.
Baz and Banks in Liberty Village is offering a 20% discount on all services and free haircuts for people who have been laid off due to the province's new restrictions, which have forced gyms and indoor dining to close, causing many people to lose their source of income.
Co-owner of the salon, Desiree Catana, says as soon as they heard the news, they knew they had to do something to help despite being a new business.
"When it turned out that they were allowing us to stay open, we just felt compelled to do something to help our fellow small business owners and employees," Catana told Narcity.
Along with 20% off of all services, Catana says she and a few other employees will be offering free blow-dries and treatments, and on her days off, she'll be coming into the shop to give out free hair cuts a couple of times a month.
Hair salons were closed due to previous lockdown restrictions and Catana says people in the industry can't help but empathize with what workers are going through now.
"The entire community in the salon industry can empathize and understand what they're going through because we were all laid off for such a long period of time."
Catana says her staff didn't blink when they brought up the discount despite recently being laid off and financially impacted themselves.
"These guys were off work for a year, same as us, and not one single person said 'No, I can't afford it.' They were like 'Whatever we can do,' and they're not even caught up on their own bills yet."
The program is running on an honour system, and to access free or discounted services, Catana says you can make an appointment online.
Catana hopes their act of kindness will help inspire others to offer help for those who may now be financially struggling.
"When I was laid off, a free haircut was not what I needed. We needed help with food, help with rent, so now I'm challenging bigger box stores like Costco and Walmart to do the same thing."
"I think what we're doing is great, and it's going to put smiles on people's faces, but from experience and being off work for over a year, the real help I needed at that time was with my essentials."
Catana says their services will remain available until workers return to work.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.