Is the Universe Telling You to Go Green?

The inaugural Sustainable Salon Summit in Dallas, TX, this May proved that not only has the appetite for sustainability moved mainstream, but that its organizer, Kelley Swing is a powerhouse worth watching. As well as bringing in huge names from the US and abroad for the Summit, Kelley recently published a best-selling book, $ustainable Salons Make Millions: The Right Way to Build Your Profitable, Organic Beauty Business, available on Amazon.
She also holds the distributorship for organic hair and color line Natulique, has launched a coaching and mentoring scheme for other owners keen to be sustainable, and is a member of the Rolling Stone’s Cultural Council of Thought Leaders. On top of all that, she owns and runs Head Case, a highly profitable, sustainable salon with a team of 25 in Keller, TX.

Kelley is not your classic tree-hugging eco warrior. Her conversion to sustainability was genuine, driven initially by wellness and clean beauty, but never at the expense of profit. Years of managing salons in the corporate scene ensured she had the skills for inspiring leadership and the knowledge to create a profitable business, but working in the salon was also making her ill. Blighted by chronic sinusitis, autoimmune diseases, and hair loss, she finally took time out of the industry only to find her illnesses lessened once she was out of the salon.

“The chronic health issues lessened when I had a short time managing a clinic so I had begun to wonder how linked they were to the fumes and chemicals I was exposed to in the salon,” she says. “I moved to a stylist that used cleaner beauty products and that helped.”

But one day her hairdresser announced she was pregnant and would stop working so her baby was not exposed to fumes from harmful chemicals used by others at the salon. That same day Kelley dropped in on her old team. One of them took her outside and begged her to open her own salon so they could all work for her again. A short while later her daughter rang to say the salon where she worked would soon be up for sale and that they should buy it.

“I reckon it was a sign from the universe. I said to my daughter, I’m not buying that business but I am going to open a salon and it’s going to be organic,” she adds. “That day I began seriously researching sustainability and organic beauty, looking for knowledge and sustainable brands.”

She quickly became an expert, quick to separate green wash from genuinely sustainable options. Besides opting for Natulique organic hair and color line, which delivers on its promise of great products and gorgeous color, she contacted Sustain Beauty Co recognizing that we are more than just a distributor of sustainable products, but a partner to help grow business. She now has ECOHEADS on every basin, has jettisoned energy and water-guzzling laundry in favor of disposable, compostable towels, and has got her team hooked on Paper Not Foils and Vish Color Management in the color department.

From the moment Head Case opened its doors, the salon was swamped, proving there was a demand from clients for a sustainable salon, even in Texas, long before one arrived. Kelley has since become evangelical about sustainability. She’s not afraid of competition, instead she wants more owners and service providers to realize the dangers from many of the every-day chemicals used in salons and that sustainability is not a drain on profitability. Her coaching, her book, her articles for Rolling Stone and, especially, the Sustainable Salon Summit are all part of her arsenal to get more owners thinking about how sustainability can grow their business, improve the experience of their team and drive increased profitability.

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