For Aurora Marks, establishing the first organic salon in her area proves to be a sound business strategy.
BEFORE OPENING Salon Botanique Eco-Chic in Morristown, New Jersey, owner Aurora Marks had far more experience as a salon and spa client than she did as a beauty professional, but extensive travels overseas opened her eyes to a unique spa niche and she was convinced the idea would fly in her community.
While pursuing an organic and natural business model hasn’t always been the easiest route, she’s proven it was a successful business strategy, and now counts herself as one of the âfirst trailblazers in a growing industry niche. Here, she talks to SALON TODAY about the journey:
ST: What drove you to open an organic and natural salon and spa?
Marks: Prior to opening the salon, I’d done quite a bit of traveling through Europe and Japan and discovered that salons and spas in other countries had been using healthier, eco-friendly products for years. Knowing there was a drive in our area for people to eat more organically, and being interested in that myself, I wanted to offer a healthier salon and spa alternative for both clients and the staff members who worked there.
ST: How did eco-consciousness factor into the design of your salon?
Marks: Our love of the French Caribbean directed the feel and design of our salon. Our entire 200-year-old building was redesigned with a customized water purification system, which is better for clients and the community at large. In the design, we used low-VOC paints, flooring made of bamboo, and furniture from reclaimed and recycled wood. And, all our spa robes and sheets are 100-percent organic cotton.
ST: Does being an organic salon make it easier to attract talent?
Marks: Actually, at first, it was more challenging, because stylists were more familiar with conventional product lines. The lines we were focusing on were paraben-free, sulfate-free and ammonia-free and they were just being introduced into the market. Many staff members weren’t convinced they’d be as effective, especially the hair color. But as our experience with them grew, and these lines are growing themselves, stylists realized that organic products can deliver great results. Yes, they can be more expensive, but often because the quality of the ingredients is so good, you can use less product.
ST: What lines do you carry?
Marks: For hair, we carry Sojourn, Milkshake, Kevin Murphy and Neuma— and we recently introduced Original Sprout and it’s flying off the shelves because it’s a family line with a nice, natural scent and clients love to buy it for their babies and children. For skin care, we use Eminence Organic Skin Care and Malie Organics. And, for color, we use Organic Color Systems, which is an ammonia-free line.
ST: Who is your target market, and how have they reacted to your concept?
Marks: While we target any client interested in an upscale salon or spa experience in our area, we do tend to attract clients who are label readers, those who either have allergies or sensitivities, or cancer patients who can’t tolerate certain ingredients. For most clients coming into our salon for the first time, they comment that Salon Botanique doesn’t smell like a normal salon, that it smells nice and fresh. After they’ve been with us awhile they will comment on what a difference the products have made in their skin and hair.
SALON BOTANIQUE ECO-CHIC
OWNER: Aurora Marks
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,000
PRODUCT LINES: Sojourn, Milkshake, Kevin Murphy, Neuma, Original Sprout
COLOR LINE: Organic Color Systems
TREATMENT ROOMS: 2 facial rooms, 1 massage/couple room