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Politics

What's At Stake In 2020? Austin Business Owner Chelle Neff On Staying Afloat During The Pandemic

Urban Betty owner Chelle Neff plans to close both salon locations on Election Day to give her staff time to vote. "It's more important now than ever," she says.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Urban Betty owner Chelle Neff plans to close both salon locations on Election Day to give her staff time to vote. "It's more important now than ever," she says.

Leading up to Election Day, KUT is showcasing different perspectives from Central Texas voters.

For Chelle Neff, owner of Urban Betty hair salon in Austin, the coronavirus pandemic is the scariest experience her business has faced in its 16 years of operation.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the salon took big hits, forcing her to rely on savings for months.

“I saw about six years’ worth of business savings get completely eaten up in two months,” Neff said. “That was heartbreaking to me.”

She says her business is about more than finances. She feels an obligation to her 60 employees who rely on their paychecks to stay afloat. Despite health risks, she does not see closing the salon as an option.

“We don’t have that luxury,” she said.

Neff said she sees the power of voting in shaping the way her employees will survive the coming years. She wants leadership that prioritizes taking care of people and maintaining the Affordable Care Act, which some of her employees utilize.

Neff will close both of her locations on Election Day to allow her employees the opportunity to vote in person.

“From now going forward,” she said, “every Election Day will be a holiday at Urban Betty.”

Keep coming back to KUT.org for more stories about issues affecting Central Texas voters.

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