HONOLULU (KHNL) - The beauty industry tends to stay strong when the economy gets ugly. But the largest salon chain in Hawaii says, for the first time in history, the beauty sector is hurting.
It's an industry that has always held relatively steady during economic roller coasters.
"When 911 hit, it did slow down a little bit but for the most part it picked up right away after that," said Mie Takeuchi, a stylist at Marsha Nadalin in Kahala.
"Matter of fact, people came in more post 911 because it made them feel good," said Paul Brown, owner of Paul Brown Institute.
In its 37 years in business, Brown says this time, it's different.
"It's affected our business and it's the first time in history. We've been through two recessions. We've never seen anything like this before," he said.
Brown says clients still come in but now they book less frequently. He says less tourist traffic is also cutting into revenues, especially at his neighbor island salons.
It's a different picture at Marsha Nadalin in Kahala where a majority of clients are kamaaina.
"The economy doesn't really affect our business in a negative way," said owner Marsha Nadalin.
Nadalin says their sales haven't taken a hit.
"If they're not staying the same and being pretty good, they go up," she said.
Both Brown and Nadalin say it's a reflection of people's need to relieve their stress, even if it means trimming their budget elsewhere.
"I've cut back on my clothing for beauty. Can't cut back much more, got to feed the family," said Karine Matsumoto, a Nadalin client.
"When everything is getting more difficult, groceries, gas, Wall Street, you want to feel good somehow. The day I die will be the last day I color my hair," said Ginny Hirata, a client at Nadalin.
Another salon, Heaven on Earth, says local clients make up 80% of its business, which is not hurting. But 20% of its clientele are tourists, and with fewer people visiting Hawaii, Heaven on Earth says it is feeling the impact of the sagging economy.