Counting the cost

The Journal begins a new monthly insight putting the spotlight on the human face of immigration policies and economic impacts, assessing the potential cost to business when government policy gets in the way of doing business.

George Carvalho is a hairstylist at Focus Hair and Beauty at the Marquee Plaza, West Bay Road. He has been living in Grand Cayman (at the time of writing) for six and a half years and his employer expects that he will have reached his term limit and be required to leave the island next summer, unless their application for key employee for George is granted.

“George is an integral part of our business here at Focus,” says owner Charlene Barnes.

“His strengths not only lie in his hairdressing talents and his ability to converse with clients in five different languages, but also his personality and spirit which endears him to customers and staff alike.”

Charlene has submitted a Business Staffing Plan to the requisite immigration board and hopes that her request to grant George key employee status will be granted.

“George’s expertise lies with working with afro hair. He is therefore a unique asset to the organisation,” she says.

Sabine Calvetti is a client of George’s. She says:

“George has been doing my hair for over six years and I swear by him. I am very particular with who does my hair and if George isn’t around I won’t get it done! George is very dedicated to his clients and work. He is all about satisfying his clients.”

Janine Gregory, another loyal client furthers: “I have returned to George’s chair because he is a very experienced hair stylist. He knows exactly how to do my hair and will be honest with me about caring for my hair. George is a very polite and sweet man and no matter how my day goes I always leave his chair with a smile!”

Client Sharon Escalante Archbold agrees: “I come to George because he is the most handsome, neat and professional hair stylist ever. He was highly recommended to me: the first day he did my hair I knew I would be back. George is very neat with his work – he takes his time and gives his clients their money’s worth. At the same time you can see he loves his job and is so happy and he has such a great personality.”

George has been with Focus for three and a half years and brought with him some of his clients from his previous salon, so many clients have been with him for the entire time he has spent in Cayman. Anticipating that George’s loyal clientele following will not come into the salon again should he leave, Charlene expects that she could lose a considerable amount of money from his loss.

“Due to the tight economic situation right now we have already had to close down one salon (in the Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah) and I certainly do not want to have to shut down my second and sole remaining business,” she says. “Losing so much money a week will put a tremendous amount of pressure on the business.”

George, who hails from Brazil, is naturally fluent in Portuguese, but also speaks Spanish, French, Italian and English.

“It is helpful for other stylists if they have a client who cannot speak English as I can usually help them out translating what they need,” George confirms. “We get a lot of tourist trade at the salon so I am useful to them if they cannot speak English.

George says that they have a very diverse population in Brazil and he trained in all sorts of hair types, particularly afro, which, he says, is extremely common in his home country.

“It takes a special type of training because the hair type is so thick in comparison to European-style hair. It means you have to be able to be conversant with straightening, colouring and blow-drying techniques for afro hair, which is an art that needs to be studied,” he adds.

George says that he has recently purchased a lovely apartment at Lantern Point in Prospect and he feels completely settled and happy in Cayman.
“I love it here,” he confirms. “I have just spent a great deal of money investing in property here and this is my home.”

George confirms that if he is to be rolled over then he will not sell his property and do his best to visit Cayman when he can.

“I will come back here even if I am forced to leave for a year,” he says.

Charlene and George both agree that reducing the rollover period from a year to a month would make a tremendous difference to the business and would cause far less disruption to both George’s life and Charlene’s business.

“I just cannot afford to lose him,” Charlene says. “If he has to leave the island for just a month, I can cope with that, but no longer!” 


George in action.