Erica Kious often wonders how much easier her life would be if she hadn’t turned the footage in. But she did — and within 24 hours, the speaker of the House shut her business down.
“I lost everything,” Kious said at Heritage Action‘s first ‘Save Our Paychecks‘ event in Fresno, California. “It still plays in my head, but I know inside me that what she did was wrong. Completely wrong. Her hypocrisy needed to be exposed.”
If you recognize Kious’s name, it’s for a good reason. Last year, the former San Francisco salon owner released footage of an unmasked Nancy Pelosi getting a blowout months into California’s statewide lockdown — except Kious’s story starts long before Pelosi’s abuse of power.
A first-generation American, Kious’s Assyrian mother arrived in the United States to pursue the American Dream. Raised by a single mother, Kious didn’t have a sufficient college fund, so she spent 10 years working in restaurants before she bought her San Francisco hair salon.
The salon was located on Union Street, just five blocks away from Pelosi’s house. Kious, who hails from California’s Central Valley and describes herself as a conservative, said she completely respected Pelosi’s privacy for the five years the politician visited her salon.
“Being a salon owner, we don’t talk about politics,” Kious laughed. “We talk about wine and whatever else is going on.”
When California went on statewide lockdown in March 2020, hair salons were immediately closed. While the rest of the state re-opened in June, Kious was told she could re-open on July 13.
Naturally, Kious was excited. She and her husband spent the last of their money making the salon COVID-compliant, putting up Plexiglas shields and arranging the building’s back patio to accommodate customers.
Two days before the salon was due to reopen, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced via Twitter that businesses were not allowed to reopen yet — COVID numbers were allegedly spiking. By this time, four hair stylists who rented chairs from Kious were struggling. Many depended on appointments to pay rent or buy food. While they grasped at loose ends, the state of California gave Kious no answers, no relief, and no help.
“They were coming out every couple of weeks and updating us. We were waiting and waiting and little by little, they stopped updating us,” Kious said. “No updates, nothing. At this point, I told my four girls, ‘If you need to go in and do two people’s [hair] so you don’t lose your apartment, or so you can eat, you have to do what you have to do.'”
One of the stylists took advantage of Kious’s offer. It just so happened that his client was Nancy Pelosi, the woman behind some of the most egregious, business-ruining policies California has ever seen.
“I was on a plane to Nashville and I got off the plane and saw there was movement [in the cameras] at the salon. There was an hour and 20 minutes of footage on that video,” Kious said. “I looked and I swear I went to the exact footage of her walking through my reception area with no mask. I felt like she took a knife and stabbed me in the stomach.”
The hairstylist faced incredible backlash and hate for releasing the now-viral footage of Pelosi walking through the salon maskless. Pelosi even alleged Kious “set her up,” and within days, the salon was shut down. The worst part, Kious said, was that Pelosi betrayed her community.
“She’s been coming here for five years. I’m five blocks away from her home. Her neighborhood was boarded up, the restaurants where she ate, the salon she got her hair done in,” Kious said. “Did she ever reach out to us and say, ‘You know what, what can I do to help you guys?’ Not a word. People can’t do this to businesses. They can’t do this to their community.
Kious now rents a chair from salon owner Bree Gentry, whose small business has faced immense pressure as well. The Gentry Salon in Fresno is barely gaining momentum again after 16 weeks of repeated government-forced closure. Gentry lives in fear every day that the opportunity to serve her community and do her job will be robbed once again.
And at the heart of all this pressure? Leftist agendas pushed by the same woman who thought she was too good to adhere to her own rules.
“I thought if I ever lost my business, I would’ve lost it in an earthquake,” Kious said. “Never did I ever think that I would’ve lost everything I worked for to leftist politics.”
Heritage Action’s ‘Save Our Paychecks’ tour gives small business owners who have been hurt by such leftist policies a platform to tell their stories. Kious is one of the 40,000 Californians whose small businesses closed during lockdowns.
“40,000 small businesses in California have closed in the last year due to the state’s restrictive lockdown orders, and now Biden’s tax-and-spending agenda rubs salt in the wounds of small business owners just trying to stay afloat,” said Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action. The left has ignored business owners and families struggling to stay afoot. Heritage Action is “taking matters into our own hands,” Anderson said, “[pushing] back against the Biden tax-and-spending agenda.”
With 40 percent of California’s workers out of work, Biden’s impending tax hike, and failed economic measures that make California the second-to-worst state for state business tax and individual income tax, it’s no wonder Heritage started its crusade in the Golden State. The state’s notoriously Democratic policy-makers continue to fail their constituents, and 50 percent of registered voters even favor recalling tyrannical Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Heritage’s tour will also feature speakers like Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, and more Americans damaged by leftist policies.