A Cut Above the Norm

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Every month, Kate Haskell talks to people and businesses doing their best to make it easier for us to live The Green Life. This month: Futura Hair Salon.

If you have made it through the pandemic so far relatively unscathed, then you are very lucky. But there may be one big crisis you’ll remember from lockdown 2020 and that will be your hair!

Social media was awash with bad hair photos as we all realized how much we treasured that bit of ‘me’ time every six weeks. Salon owners were missing their clients too and, of course, the ability to be open for business.

With the world shut away for weeks on end, it has enabled us to do a lot of soul searching – none more so than for Ben and Nadia Barlaba of Futura Hair in Exeter.

Whilst Covid-19 has a lot of bad stuff to answer for, they felt one good thing to come out of it is that many of us have had the chance to think how we want our future to be different and how we can make that difference, as Ben shared with me:

We thought long and hard about how the future was going to look, what would our clients want and with such a life-changing event would everyone’s values have changed? If things weren’t going back to ‘normal’ then maybe, we should influence that ourselves and strive for better than normal. Suddenly, we got very excited and knew we wanted the salon to reflect the change that was happening in us and all around us.

It seems Ben, who looks after the business side of things, and Nadia, who is on the creative side as salon director, had an epiphany. Ben agrees:

We had clear evidence of events happening in other parts of the world that we were now suffering the effects close to home. We wanted to reopen as a safe space but, just as importantly, a genuinely sustainable salon. We knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but we had to do it.

It’s difficult to know which is harder, starting a sustainable business from scratch or transforming an existing business, but Ben, Nadia and the team were ready for the challenge.

The looked at every aspect of the business from the services, the products, and the guest experiences. Wanting the guest to have a safer and more eco-friendly experience every time they visited, without losing the quality or luxury of the service, was no easy task.

First, they took a hard look at the products and after much research settled on Every Green and Authentic Beauty Concept. Ben explains:

The quality and ethos behind those products blew our minds. These stood out as the best for vegan friendly and sustainability in hair care. We then took the next step, replacing all light bulbs with LEDs, we introduced air purifiers, installed eco head shower heads, and reduced the water consumption by over half.

But that wasn’t enough for the team because they then partnered up with the Green Salon Collective. A company that recycles, composts and recovers hair, used foils, empty colour tubes, chemicals, PPE, plastic, paper and even salon towels. They burn any chemical waste in a specialist facility to generate energy for the National Grid.

Soon the salon will be introducing a refill station so you can bring back your shampoo and conditioner bottles and refill them in the salon to save on packaging. All this involves a lot of time, thought and outlay but Ben says it is totally worth it:

We are noticing a big difference in our energy consumption and the clients are absolutely loving it, plus it is attracting new clients.

Both Ben and Nadia admit not everything will be achieved overnight – it is an ongoing project to be sustainably sustainable – but by being straightforward and honest about the products, they find their clients are listening and responding. As Ben concludes:

It feels good and fulfilling and the only regret is that we didn’t do this sooner!

This article was featured in the March 2022 issue of Devon Life magazine.

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