Central Florida salon reacts to slow business, protesters calling for racial equality

One way activists advocate for racial equality is by supporting black-owned businesses.

At Showtyme International Hair and More in Orlando, the owner is making a difference in her community despite struggling during COVID-19.

For more than 20 years, right off of West Colonial Drive near Downtown Orlando, Alicia Gilreath has been well-known in her community for making others feel good about their appearance.  

“That right there makes me feel good,” Gilreath told FOX 35 Orlando. “I’ve always cut the homeless hair. I’ve cut people when they got out of jail hair for free so that they can go get jobs. That’s something I’ve always done.”

But all of her services had to stop when COVID-19 closed her salon.

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Now that appointments can once again be made, business still isn’t the same.

“Business has been slow,” she said. “Definitely since COVID. We don’t get many appointments because they don’t have the income. A lot of people have gotten laid off or furloughed. Our Friday’s used to be pretty busy. Used to be.”

On top of that, seeing tensions rise over racial equality strikes a chord.

“I think the protests is necessary and I think it’s a good thing,” Gilreat said. “But I also think that along with the protesting itself, the people that are in power should step up and do more.”

MORE NEWS: Protests across Central Florida over the weekend remain peaceful

While many continue to call for change, Gilreath said she will keep her doors open ready to serve her customers and help others looking for a second chance.

“I do hair so I can make people feel good,” she said. “Because without hair, their self-esteem is not there.”

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.