At Maggie’s Salon in Vineyard Haven a full-length vanity mirror reflects the shaggy head of a client who has been overdue for a haircut since mid-March. The face in the mirror is one of the many people who, just a few months ago, considered a haircut one of the staples of normalcy in daily life.

But now a haircut has become a rite of passage again as Maggie’s Salon, like many businesses on the Island, has been allowed to reopen its doors after months of pandemic-induced closure.

On Tuesday, Maggie Mae, owner of the salon, swept locks of hair into a dustpan.

“There was certainly a little damage control,” she said. “I think people sort of lost themselves, on many different levels, during the last few weeks. Then, by coming in and getting their hair cut, they could kind of start to feel like themselves again.”

Ms. Mae decided to close her salon a week before it was ordered by the state. She has friends and family in Europe who warned her about what was headed this way. With up to 50 people in the shop on any given day and a largely at-risk clientele, she said she feared becoming an early epicenter of the virus on the Island.

“It weighed heavily on me,” she said. “I didn’t want to be the reason there could be an outbreak here. I kind of closed for a two-week period to see what was going to happen. Within those two weeks the state told us we were going to stay closed until May first. Then it just kept going.”

Ms. Mae used the shutdown time to develop a green recycling system. — Maria Thibodeau

Ms. Mae said closing down was challenging, both financially and emotionally. She filed for a small business loan, but never received it. Instead, her business was buoyed by reliable clients, many of whom ordered at-home color kits, continued to tip the stylists and in some cases paid for a year’s worth of service in advance.

Ms. Mae said she was grateful for their support, but continued to feel lost without the daily connection to her clients.

“Everything I had ever done for the last 20 years was to make this thing my life. And then it was sitting empty. And it was lonely and scary . . . I kept asking myself, what’s going to happen?”

She continued: “Then you have a moment and realize, well, you have no control over that. Then you start to think about what you do have control over.”

She said quarantine was the first time since she was 14 years old that she had eight full weeks of not working. She decided to seize control of the situation by revamping her business, which she had previously been too busy to attend to. She renovated her website and researched how to make her business practices more sustainable.

During quarantine, Maggie’s Salon became partners with Green Circle Salon, a recycling program out of Canada that has helped the business eliminate 95 per cent of their waste. All of their chemicals now get broken down, burned and converted into electricity. And the pounds of hair that would have ended up in a landfill are now used as absorbent fibers in oil spills or bedding material for refugees.

“The days flew by. I thought I was going to have time off.”

Maggie’s Salon opened in late May —tending to the bushy headed veterans of a global pandemic. She said some of her returning clients took the opportunity to let their hair grow out. Without the customs of office etiquette, she said, many are now leaving it a few inches longer, perhaps reflecting a cultural trend in the coming decade.

There are significant safety regulations in place at the salon. Temperatures are checked at the door, all staff and clientele wear masks, and each stylist operates in their own area, separated by plastic sheeting. Hair is not blown dry so customers leave the salon freshly groomed but with hair still damp.

As a hairdresser, Ms. Mae said she is often the first person her clients have had contact with, besides their families, since the pandemic began. It is a responsibility she does not take lightly, she said.

“It’s kind of a sacred bond,” she said. “I’m the first person to not only be in their space, but also touch them, and then make them look beautiful.”