SASAKTOON -- One local salon owner says a mix of government programs and employee adaptability helped keep her business afloat over the past year of the pandemic.

Melanie Sather is co-owner at Reveal Salon and Spa and says they lost 25 per cent of their clients over the last 16 months and had to subsidize staff wages to help make ends meet.

“Everybody’s paychecks were affected and it’s been scary at times,” Sather told CTV News.

What saved them she says, is a relief program offered by the province and she wishes more businesses would’ve used the help to avoid closing.

Sather says the reason customers dropped off in part was that they got used to minimal hair care and while some have since returned, it’s concerning for the future of her salon.

“We’ve had a lot more clients who are transitioning to their grey which in the long-term affects all of us on a regular basis because they’re not coming in near as often or maybe not at all because it’s just haircuts and not colours,” she said.

Government of Saskatchewan spokesperson Robin Speer told CTV News in an email, they’ve provided $77 million in payments to approximately 6,500 applicants through The Small Business Emergency Payment Program (SSBEP).

About $30 million more has gone to help other sectors adapt like the tourism industry.

The Re-Open Saskatchewan Training Subsidy (RSTS) was developed to help businesses train employees and adjust to the impacts of the pandemic.

Over 1,800 applications have been approved in that program.

Another provincial program, the Strong Recovery Adaptation Rebate (SRS) was developed to help businesses pivot to new and safer ways of doing business.