Ric Gardner-Collis is the Founder and Creative Director of The Ethical Hairdresser, a new eco-salon in The Royal Arcade, Norwich. Here, the hairstylist and colourist explains why he is also a social activist concerned with the environment and equality for all
For me being an environmentalist is something I can’t be too busy for in my life because the environment and its health has a massive impact on me, my life and the lives of the people I share a community with. Both local and globally.
I came to hairdressing in my twenties, almost a decade ago now and always wanted to work as sustainably as possible. I’ve been lucky enough to train with some amazing hairdressers at Trevor Sorbie and Vidal Sassoon in London as well as here in Norwich where I was based in an independent city salon for the last five years – where the focus in the salon was training, precision cutting and excellence in client care.
Before training, I began following OWAY, who are the company I now partner with to supply my organic, biodynamic, sustainable and cruelty free colour, treatment, and styling products. I always knew that when I ventured on my own, this would be the path I would follow. I think consumers now expect even small business to have considered the environment in their decision making and for me imbedding that in the culture of my business seemed the most obvious route. So, for me, I have been living with the concept for my entire career!
Being ethical might sound self-righteous or even pretentious to some. For me, it simply means making considered and thoughtful choices that consider impact. Being a small business means being part of a community of other businesses and of the local audience we serve. Being mindful of our impact is incredibly important to me because of my belief that I have a responsibility to try and live in a way that is thoughtful. For our business that means working with organic products, products we can rely on, whose authenticity we can trace and suppliers we can visit. It means excluding all animal products from our business and choosing the least wasteful and most sustainable option at every juncture. We strive to be as close to zero waste and plastic free as possible. Working with ‘Green Salon Collective’, we actively separate all our waste and send it to them, for processing. There is not one part of the waste system they cannot re-use, including cut hair which is used for mopping up oil slicks!
There was no other choice when it came to opening our salon than The Royal Arcade. Its history, beautiful architecture, central location, and community feel made it the only option when thinking about where we might open. The Arcade owners are also very interested in working with businesses that put suitability at the core of their ethos and therefore our partnership was the perfect fit. Over the last two years the Arcade has been having a major renaissance and feels like a real destination for experience. I am proud to be sitting alongside some brilliant small business that include Flowers by Basi & Pip, Juni & Co, Izola, Lauren Rose Interior Design, Gyre & Gimble and of course Yalm Foodhall. All are small, independent, and local businesses who are trying to bring a unique and considered experience to the people of Norfolk – we couldn’t be in better company.
I’ve been following Jack Kinsey on Instagram for a few years now, watching him and his partner Alex renovate their stunning Norfolk Chapel. By chance Jack competed this year in BBC One’s Interior Design Masters, with Alan Carr, coming in at an amazing second place. Seeing Jack announce his involvement on the programme highlighted to me that he himself was in fact an interior designer and I reached out. Working with a local and queer small business owner was an important starting point for me, as well as his incredible eye for design and artistic talent. Jack has managed to create an oasis of calm and luxury in the arcade that feels modern, sympathetic to the heritage of the building and symbiotic to our brand. What the design does highlight is that sustainability doesn’t have to mean austerity, or no thrills. I think he’s managed to encapsulate that feeling of luxury and indulgence within the sphere of sustainability. On a personal level Jack has been incredibly supportive and generous with his time on our project – working with his has been a dream.
The launch was fantastic. There were vegan canapes, organic Champagne, and a lovely mix of new and old faces. It was a real chance to celebrate the people involved in getting us to this point as well as welcoming new people to discover more about us!
A visit with us always starts with a warm welcome. We will listen to you, work with you and offer suggestions to make you feel like the most glorious version of yourself. We will indulge you in the most beautiful organic products and treatments to awaken your senses and leave us feeling invigorated and restored.
Who knows what the future holds, but I do hope that in our small way we are able to have an impact of our community and the environment and may inspire other hairdressers to work more mindfully. In the future I’d love to design and produce my own product range, this would give me the opportunity to collaborate with others, creating a unique and sustainable range of my own.
The Ethical Hairdresser, 3 The Royal Arcade, Norwich, NR2 1NQ. Booking is now open and can be made online through the website – theethicalhairdresser.com; through social media channels – @ethicalhairdresser; via phone or in person at the salon.
Featured images supplied by Ric Gardner-Collis