April 2011

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


It's a Green Thang!

Remember the auto industry in Detroit a few years ago, before the last recession began, whose declining sales symbolized everything "old school" in the marketplace.

After decades of not giving consumers what they wanted, it looked like the auto industry was down for the count, but then it all changed.

Even when we leave government intervention out of the equation, we can point to a huge factor that led to American auto companies being able to get back up and stand on their own two feet.

They gave the American consumer what they had been looking for all along and adapted to the changing environment. They began offering eco-friendly and innovative products that people really wanted to purchase, and it seems they are not the only sector that decided to do so.

The range of new products in the marketplace can help any home or business make a simple transition to being greener effectively and without making us feel like we have been cast on an episode of "Little House on The Prairie."

So, what does this have to do with the beauty industry with its chlorofluorocarbons, toxic fumes, and water down the drain? It has everything to do with us.

American consumers are marching to the beat of a green drummer.

When it comes to beauty products, for decades consumers have loved the idea of getting something from nature to make them more attractive. No one goes to the salon to soak up the smell of ammonia, or to a nail salon to watch their technician put a mask on to protect them from overexposure to fumes.

They go to the salon because they want to enhance what Mother Nature has given them. Some products and chemicals will remain to be around until innovation occurs, but you can still do quite a bit to make an impact on your own environment, on your salon and on the world.

Green is a big umbrella covering many smaller parts of the marketplace. Let's break it down into a few smaller sections to help you appeal to two types of consumers who purchase goods and services from a business for ecological reasons.

Waste Haters

"Waste not, want not" is a phrase many of us can identify with. We like doing business with those who let us know they are making an effort to affect change and a great by-product of this is saving on energy, cost of goods and water consumption.

Some hotels and resorts began letting their patrons know years ago how much would be saved in water and energy costs if everyone re-used their towel one extra time during their stay.

Key ways to appeal to these clients include letting them know you are actively working to conserve in the salon. You can then post items around the salon that show people the progress you are making with saving.

Use aerators on your sprayer heads to cut down on water flow. The newer ones work great and give great water pressure. If you own the building you are operating out of, consider purchasing a tank-less water heater.

Contact your local agencies and find out the proper ways to recycle your color tubes, aerosol cans and other items that may contain residues of hazardous chemicals. It may be an effort at first, but it will quickly become a habit.

Get reusable bottles for your employees to cut down not only on cost of bottled water, but also on trash and trips to recycle bottles.

Check your lighting to see if it is energy efficient. Turn off lights in rooms that are not in use.

Get in the habit of unplugging your flat irons and curling irons when not in use. Leaving them on all day is not only a fire hazard, but the cost can really add up.

Get your appointment cards printed on seed paper. When the appointment is over, the card can be recycled into beautiful flowers. Check out www.botanicalpaperworks.com.

Fair Traders

Traditionally, trading of goods or services may not have been considered green, however, one of the principals of fair trade is stewardship of environmental principals. These products promote long-term environmental and economic stability for those individuals and communities that benefit from them. People purchase these items to make every dollar they spend, count -- and feel great about it.

Buy from fair trade certified retailers…and tell your clients about it. Fair trade gift items and accessories are fashionable, unique, and make you want to give them. One of my favorites is "31 Bits." Women in Northern Uganda make beads made from discarded paper into gorgeous necklaces and bracelets. Go to www.31bits.com to see their beautiful products and the changes they are helping to make. Find more information about fair trade at www.transfairusa.org.

A little effort goes a long way when it comes to becoming better caretakers of our planet and each other. Each step we take can serve as an inspiration to our clients and communities; after all, we are all in this together.

Charlene Abretske is an independent business advisor. To reach her email charleneabretske@gmail.com or call (760)453-1882.