Splish Salon in Confier, Colorado, uses American clay on the walls instead of plaster. This clay emits negative ions that create good feelings in people.

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Splish Salon

, in Conifer, Colorado, was founded on the premise of building and operating a business with both a socially and environmentally responsible approach. Matt Walsh, CEO of Splish Salon Systems Inc., believes that making these kinds of decisions will benefit guests in positive, healthful ways. SALON TODAY asked Walsh about his dreams and goals regarding Splish.

ST: What is your mission at Splish? Describe the atmosphere.

Walsh: Our goal is to revolutionize the hair salon industry through social and environmental initiatives. We want to provide five-star services at low prices. We want to make a difference in one salon, one community and one guest at a time.

All of our products are natural and organic. Part of the atmosphere at Splish comes in the form of education. If you walk into Splish, people are shocked that we are completely eco-built. Our salon has a fantastic vibe-it's bright, cheery and we use American clay on our walls instead of plaster. We didn't want to use traditional paint, so our designer recommended that we use clay; which is the only natural material that emits negative ions. I went to WebMD.com and it states that negative ions create good feelings in people. Depending upon the humidity is how many negative ions are emitted; sometimes it can be anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 negative ions per square centimeter.

Part of the good feeling in the salon can also be attributed to our colors and aromas. Whatever we do at Splish, we want to replicate in as many locations as we open. Our eco-friendliness will be incorporated into any salon we build.

ST: What kinds of processes and practices has Splish put in place to make the salon more eco-friendly?

Walsh: We recycle 95 percent of our color tubes, foils, color boxes, and we even used to recycle hair. All of our lighting is low voltage, white LED lighting or compact fluorescent. We also power down our salon every night. We did an experiment to see how much energy we were saving with our power on versus having our power off. We found that we are saving an average of 30 percent every month. 

We purchased renewable energy certificates and our product line, Splish, is all natural. We have found that we outsell our products three to one compared to the other brands in our salon. We have a refill station, where we will refill our customer's empty bottles at a fraction of the cost. This way our guests are saving money and we are also saving the planet.

ST: Besides being eco-friendly, how has Splish raised the bar for the beauty industry as far as social responsibility?

Walsh: We formed our own non-profit organization. My wife and I heave always been very philanthropic, so we carried over what we believe personally to our business. We take a different approach to supporting non-profits and local communities and we do this through our own non-profit organization called The Splish Foundation for Environmental Stewardship.

The Splish foundation is funded in three primary ways. The first is from franchise fees paid to Splish. We donate $1,000 of the franchise fee to the foundation. We then donate $500 back to a local, community organization of the salon owner's choice, thus supporting a group who in turn supports the salon. The second way we fund the Foundation is from royalties paid by the franchisee to Splish. We will donate one percent of the salon's gross revenues to the Splish Foundation or 1/6 of the royalty paid. We then donate half of that back to local communities on behalf of Splish. Lastly, each year, all Splish salons are required to host a charity day where 100 percent of all service and Tip revenues plus 10 percent of all retail is donated to The Splish Foundation, of which 1/3 will again be donated back to each local community wherever a Splish salon is located.

We do volunteer work, recycle days, and charity is incredibly important to us. What we have learned over the past six years is for every dollar we donate, we get $10 back. Donations to some of the local non-profits have dried up so we want to make sure that we support locally. We would like to create a perpetual cycle of giving.

ST: What makes Splish different from other hair salons?

Walsh: A lot of it boils down to our staff and how we take care of them. We managed to retain about 90 percent of our staff since October 2007. We provide flexible scheduling, a stock option for full-time employees, paid vacation and health insurance. People in this industry should receive the same benefits as people in the corporate industry.

 Splish CEO Matt Walsh.
ST: In the future, what influence do you think Splish will have on other salons and the entire beauty industry?

Walsh: We want to raise the bar both environmentally and through social awareness. We want to improve how employees are treated, and in the end, it all boils down to the guest. It sounds cliche, but we want to be the Starbucks of the hair salon industry. I believe you have to provide uncompromised, exceptional services to be successful.


Number of Employees: 12

Eco-product lines: Splish (private), Intelligent Nutrients, Paul Mitchell, Tilvee Eco Ethical Skincare, UltraPure Cosmetics, Inara Organics

Top three eco-practices: Energy-saving lighting, American Clay and recycling

Client retention: 90 percent

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