Virtue Salon & Barber Shop uses vegan-friendly products, has green policies

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A Metropreneur reader suggested I write a story about Virtue Salon & Barber Shop and after just a few minutes on its website, I was intrigued. Virtue is billed as vegan and environmentally friendly− two concepts that aren’t often associated with hair care. However, the more I thought about it, the more I think they should be.

Making sure you don’t harm Mother Nature while working with what she gave you just makes sense. To date, Virtue is the only vegan salon in Columbus, though. (It opened in February 2010.)

“We have tried to find out if there are other vegan salons in the country and it is isn’t clear,” says Melanie Long, owner/stylist at Virtue, located at 3333 N. High St. in Columbus. “There are some salons out of state that offer a list of vegan services along with their non-vegan services. Other salons carry some of the same product lines, but we check all products to be sure they are animal product-free.”

Read on to learn who frequents Virtue, why Long thinks other salons are adopting sustainable policies, and what goal she’d like to achieve in the next two years.

The Metropreneur: What inspired you to start a vegan salon?

Melanie Long: I liked the idea of having a holistic approach to the beauty industry, which is not common in a multi-billion dollar industry. I also morally agree with the idea of having cruelty-free products. There is a salon on every corner and it is great way to offer the community something different and unique.

[M]: The salon uses All-Nutrient and Thermafuse products, right?

ML: These product lines are vegan, environmentally friendly, organic, botanically based and mostly sulfate-free. Even the hair color is botanical and the tubes are recyclable. The shipments come in completely recyclable materials as well− no packing peanuts, etc.

[M]: Tell me a bit about your typical client.

ML: We have a broad spectrum of clients, including many people who are passionate about issues related to the ethical treatment of animals, but that is definitely not the only population we draw. We have many local small business supporters from the community, a broad spectrum of professions and ages, and people who travel from up to two hours away!

[M]: You’ve said one of your goals is making Virtue a zero waste salon. What are you doing to achieve that?

ML: This is something that we would like to continue to work towards. We are conscious about every product that is brought into the salon. We started an urban garden outside of the salon in which we will soon begin to compost any food wastes, etc. We are using rain barrels to gather water and we try to donate our hair clipping waste to different causes, including community gardens for warding off pests. All of the items that we bring into the salon are repurposed if possible. Our business cards are cut from recycled cardboard brought in by our clients.

[M]: Is being green more expensive from an operations standpoint?

ML: Going green is incredibly inexpensive. There are a few products that have a higher price point, such as light bulbs, but overall green is extremely thrifty. All of our furniture is secondhand vintage and is extremely well made.

The cleaners that we use are all made at the salon. We use vinegar and water solutions to disinfect most surfaces. We do not use laundry detergent. We use SmartKlean laundry balls, which last 365 washes, which protects the environment and saves tons of money on detergents.

Our business cards are essentially free and are simply rubber stamped on repurposed cardboard. We also do not have paper towels. The bathroom hand towels are used once by a client, placed in a hamper and washed. Guests use mason jars for water and real coffee mugs for coffee.

[M]: Do you foresee more and more salons going green in the years ahead?

ML: Yes, I think that many salons are working to take steps to be more environmentally sound like many other businesses and households. Products that are available now are much more “green” than they have been in the past.  It does take extra effort to be environmentally effective, but as more people do it, our clients and guests will find it to be enjoyable and scrupulous, which will be worth the time and effort.

[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?

ML: Eventually we want to develop our garden space into a spectacular green space over the years and show people how to use space in metropolitan areas to grow food and plants. We do want to continue to be as close to waste-free as possible. Within two years, we would like to announce that we are at zero waste!

To learn more about Virtue Salon & Barber Shop, visit VirtueVeganSalon.com.

Photos by Adam Slane Photography.