“How can I say with my hand on my heart that my carbon footprint is as low as I can possibly get,” says Kelsey, who bought the salon from her friend Marcia Beck in 2018. “But I’m working on it. I’m not a natural student but researching green options is so much easier than it was 10 years ago, and our clientele is very sustainable-focused and they often come to us with ideas and suggestions. They question everything, which is so good.”
Marcia opened Hive Beauty in 2011, when sustainability was still a niche idea within the beauty industry. She brought along Kelsey, who’d been her assistant in their previous salon and together they built Hive, a vanguard in green beauty in San Luis Obispo. When Marcia decided to pull back from salon ownership, Kelsey was her natural heir.
“Marcia was focused on reducing the toxic nature of beauty and she really believed that within a decade every salon would be toxin-free. Sadly that’s still far from true, but more in the industry are recognizing the negative impact we have on the planet, and that’s good,” says Kelsey. “I’m really keen to share my experiences and help others embrace a more eco approach.”The salon’s green credentials are unquestionable. Hive is a member of the National Association of Eco-friendly Salons and Spas (NAEFSS) as well as the California Green Business Network (CGBN), both of which have standards to achieve before you can join. And as it is California, you can imagine those standards are pretty uncompromising. But the organizations are also there to help and advise. It was the CGBN that suggested labeling the trash “landfill” so no one in the salon forgets exactly where their waste is going.
While Marcia championed clean beauty, bringing in product lines such as Kevin Murphy, Kelsey has focused on water conservation, installing ECOHEADS on every basin, and waste, teaming up with Green Circle Salons.
“I will go through the trash to check there is nothing in there that can be recycled and I’ll go through the recyclables to ensure they are clean and will not snag up the process,” she adds. More recently, she’s brought on Vish Color Management, partners of Sustain Beauty Co, to help battle the collective’s color waste down to zero.
But her passion for sustainability isn’t just narrowed to the environment; she’s also looking to sustain her business by being the best employer in town. The salon’s green credentials might be a magnet for like-minded stylists but her move to introduce health care options and retirement plans makes Hive a more attractive and better place to work.
“I want to empower women by giving them a career and independence, and by doing that I’m hoping to build a stable, talented team,” she concludes. “If I can ensure the sustainability of my salon then together we will all be helping the environment and ensuring our clients have access to clean beauty.”