Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Green City Diaries: Shear innovation, part 2

(originally published 3/5/13 in Model D)

When we started our conversation last week about sustainable stylists in Detroit, I mentioned that Sebastian Jackson of the Social Club Grooming Company is considering several interrelated areas for improvement over time. One is the toxicity of the products he uses and sells. "There are real health benefits to this industry," he says, "but also the potential to do real harm. I don't want to hurt my clients."

Jen Willemsen concurs. She owns Curl Up & Dye, a non-toxic salon in the Cass Corridor, about a mile down the street from The Social Club. When she opened the business four years ago, she used and sold standard, high quality beauty products, without giving much thought to the potentially harmful effects they could have on her customers, her employees, and the environment. "Providing non-toxic products and thinking about sustainability were never goals when I started this business," she says. "Honestly, it's the last thing I ever thought I would take on. But at this point, I can't go back."

Jen started thinking seriously about cosmetics ingredients after some of her vegan customers asked her to provide professional quality products that weren't tested on animals. For the first time, she started really paying attention to the labels on the products she used every day. She started investigating the ingredients she found listed there: ("chemicals," as she puts it, "with repercussions"), and her research led her to some disturbing insights into the beauty industry.