Alchemist Amber: Converting Salon Waste

While on her journey to becoming @AlchemistAmber with nearly 22k Instagram followers, Amber Maynard-Bolt became obsessed with converting the mass of waste stockpiled in her salon into something more than a deposit in the local landfill. When the owners of the salon would not pay for recycling collections, she trawled the internet and found a company that would remove certain plastics for free. Then she convinced everyone to shift from throwing that particular type of plastic in the bin to throwing it in the recycling. It was a start. However, it still irked her. She could see it wasn’t enough. Then one of her high-profile clients, Rumer Willis, had a very nasty reaction to her hair dye.

“It was horrible,” says Amber. “It was the final straw. I knew I wanted to work somewhere that wasn’t endangering the planet or my clients.”

Following Your Sustainable Values

Despite being in the midst of the COVID crisis, she moved from her secure position at the high-end, celebrity-magnet West Hollywood salon where she’d worked for 10 years into a four-station suite where she could establish procedures that no longer contributed to the problem of pollution, and where she could install sustainable fixtures such as ECOHEADS and use products such as Scrummi and Paper Not Foil. She has two assistants and another stylist who work there, all of whom share her values. But when investigating green color lines for her suite, she hit a major obstacle.

“I couldn’t get testers, I had to spend $1,200 for a range before I could sample whether it was for me or not. That’s a real hurdle for those considering sustainability as an option,” says Amber, who signed up to Green Circle Salons on day one to ensure it wasn’t just certain plastics she was diverting from landfill. “I just had to pay it and work through trial and error to find the best one for me. I also spent ages searching for eco-products to retail and have found some amazing small-batch apothecaries, making products that my clients love.

“It’s getting easier to go green. Being part of Sustain Beauty Co and Green Circle Salons helps, but exploring color line options is still a challenge.”

Fortunately, for others coming round to the idea that protecting the planet is possible without having to relearn everything and reject what’s gone before, Amber is back in education mode. Through the Sunday School, a grassroots organization run by stylists for stylists, she will be sharing her curly hair and color expertise, as well as her insight into the various sustainable color lines and other products. It’s something she also does on Instagram, but more as an afterthought than as part of an agenda. She’s sustainable, and the wonderful results she gets and shares on social are all the proof needed to show adopting new approaches doesn’t mean having to reject all that’s come before or compromise on standards. Give Amber a follow for more inspiration on making the change to follow your instincts and being true to your values.

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