An invitation to join the sustainability panel discussion at the Data Driven Salon Summit in Nashville in May had Amy Roland, owner of A Roland Salon, suffering from a serious case of imposter syndrome. Hosted by Valorie Tate, founder of Sustain Beauty Co, the panel featured Pam Gordon from Gordon Salons in Chicago, Il and Leslie Menich from Baddhare in Myrtle Beach, SC. Amy felt in a different league, which lasted until she was up on stage.
“I thought, ‘What am I doing up here with these experts?’ I don’t have all the answers,” she confesses. “I was listening to Valorie and thinking ‘wow, she is full of great advice.’”
But so was Amy. Once her crisis of confidence passed, she got into her stride, sharing a journey to sustainability that began years ago. Already interested in ‘clean beauty’ while at beauty school, Amy joined a family-run salon that used ‘almost’ sustainable color and products lines. She launched with that brand when she opened her own salon in 2012, but she was growing increasingly discontent.
“I will not use chemicals that damage our planet or my clients, my children or myself or add to the mountain of plastic waste our industry produces every year. But there are elements of sustainability that have taken time to implement. Finding a manufacturer that fits my needs took a while,” she explains. “Ten years ago I didn’t, and I still don’t, have all the answers. But I do know it’s what we must do to ensure our businesses remain sustainable into the future. Clients expect it.”
Clearly complacency is not part of Amy’s character, which explains why she is so popular as a coach with Salon Cadence. She adds: “I don’t push the sustainability agenda unless they want to. Instead I focus on mission and brand to ensure it is cohesive and compelling. Don’t compromise and keep on questioning.”
But a commitment to sustainability also involves being self-aware through enquiry, to keep searching for ways to reduce our impact and build a strong business. Amy’s commitment paid off last year when she finally achieved one of her major goals towards greater sustainability. She purchased her own premises. Downsizing from a huge, old building to a much smaller, sleeker property without reducing her team or the salon’s clientele, was a major boost. The new salon makes the most of natural light and the surrounding grounds have been landscaped to reflect natural habitat, so doesn’t need copious amounts of water to survive. Plastic use is minimal. The salon has a refillery while all cleansing products are purchased as concentrates, even the Baribicide.
“These are easy fixes most salons could introduce but the biggest challenge is building a team of like-minded people who are also committed to sustainability. I broke my own rule straight after the pandemic,” she admits.
Forced back behind the chair full-time when everyone reopened, she brought on a couple of people who didn’t quite fit. It didn’t work out and Amy had to go through the expensive rigmarole of recruitment again. She has embedded the experience into her coaching.
"Build a strong avatar for what you are looking for, based on your values and your missions, and stick with it because in the long run it is better for your business and the rest of your team,” she says. “None of us have all the answers, but sharing our journey with others who have the same values makes it easier.”
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