SALON DESIGN: THE ECO-FRIENDLY COCO HAIR - TIGI FUSE

Who gives a coco? (So the saying goes.) Susan Grant, owner of the sustainable and eco-friendly COCO salon certainly does. Her determination to help create a better world for her children makes for an interesting and informative read.

Climate change is always a hot topic of conversation, so with World Earth Day falling this week, we thought it would be good to talk to a salon owner who has taken huge steps to create a wholly sustainable salon.

Susan Grant opened her first salon in 2009, but in 2019 she realised her vision when she opened COCO in the town of Cheddar in South West England (and yes, the cheese comes from there!)

Here, Susan shares her ideas with Fuse, which could get you thinking of ways to improve your own positive global footprint. 

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Coco sourced materials from reclamation yards, including an old church floor.

FUSE: What factors made you decide to make your salon as sustainable as possible?

SUSAN: The hairdressing industry is one of the biggest polluters on the high street, something we set to change by introducing new measures throughout our salon. The first thing we did, before even thinking of a business plan or strategy, was to create our salon manifesto. This gave us the foundation for the salon we wanted to create and maintain.

We have made our ‘declaration’ visible in our salon for all to see. This ensures we stick to our vison and keeps us creatively focused, and makes us always look at what we do and how we do it. We wrote our manifesto long before the salon was even built and this gave us direction in every decision we made before we finally relocated to the new salon in April 2019.

FUSE: How did you research possibilities?

SUSAN: We spent endless hours on the internet! We read lots of books on subjects such as reclaimed furniture, going eco and sustainability. We literally looked at everything we purchased and this is something we still do now, traffic lighting possible purchases red, amber or green to decide whether we should buy something or not.

 

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The salon displays its manifesto as a reminder of their vision.

FUSE: So what steps did you take to make it sustainable?

SUSAN: We looked at absolutely everything from the materials we used to build and create the salon space, to all the touch points throughout such as:

  • Our utility supplier. We only use 100% renewable green energy to power our hairdryers.
  • We have a wormery on site to which we add our ground coffee beans, loose tea leaves and fruit peelings
  • We recycle our Scrummi towels by using them as ‘dog poo bags’, which are 100% biodegradable.
  • We’ve replaced foil with ‘paper not foil’
  • We give our hair trimmings to land owners to deter deer/foxes entering areas of their land where there are young lambs or where new trees have been planted.
  • We recycle everything and have introduced specific waste bins throughout the salon.
  • All of our monthly magazines are given to the local doctors’ and dentists’ surgery (with our sticker on the front cover to help promote the salon).
  • And we are community leads for the charity Surfers Against Sewage which promotes a plastic-free community.
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The exterior uses natural materials.
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Waste not want not: the salon donates old magazines to surgeries.

FUSE: Did this make the set-up more expensive?

SUSAN: Quite the opposite, apart from the chairs and backwash area, and the barista coffee machine, we managed to source pretty much everything else from reclamation yards and even found the wood flooring, which runs throughout the salon, from a local church.

And we used a local charity that employs people in recovery from drug dependence, to make the units from reclaimed scaffolding boards.

FUSE: What advantages does a sustainable salon bring?

SUSAN: We have actually attracted many new clients to the salon by being different. Our clients absolutely love our ethos. ‘Word of mouth’ didn’t take long to spread our eco message and the results have been hugely positive!

FUSE: What would you say to a salon owner thinking of refitting their salon and considering how they can make it more sustainable?

SUSAN: If it can’t be reduced, reused, re-built, refurbished, re-sold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from the salon! And don’t claim to be something you aren’t – people will see through it.

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Even hair is recycled!
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The salon’s wormery.

FUSE: Are there any do’s and don’ts about running a sustainable salon?

SUSAN: Do your research as many things may market themselves as sustainable but in reality, they aren’t. We’ve had a couple of bad experiences where some products weren’t as ecological as advertised. Educate your clients and explain what you are doing and why, and involve them as much as possible to build your community.

FUSE: What reaction have you had from clients?

SUSAN: On the whole the reaction has been very positive. But of course, not all our clients are bothered about sustainability and you have to respect that. Finding a balance of being eco, but still ‘chic’ is tricky and you have to find a happy medium. We’re also lucky to have a courtyard space that clients love to sit out in and relax during the summer, especially whilst their colour is developing.

FUSE: And lastly, what have you enjoyed most about having a sustainable salon?

SUSAN: We are contributing to a better world for our two young children, Flora and Barnaby, and that makes us feel good above everything else!

Find out more about the positive work from Coco Hair Salon at www.cocohairsomerset.com

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