Andrea’s Hair Salon in Boulder, Colorado, has the unique distinction of being the first business in the entire state recognized for its efficient use of resources, sustainable materials and low impact business practices… all the while, providing fabulous styles to its clients and career-enhancing education to staff. Owners and PBA Members Andrea and Pete Fahlenkamp share the story behind Andrea’s Hair Salon and the fulfillment of running a successful business that also helps the planet!
“Our passion to run a low impact business stems from our desire to show the world that you can run a sustainable, yet profitable business,” shares Andrea, who became a cosmetologist when her career as a preschool teacher was no longer fulfilling. After enrolling in cosmetology school, Andrea instantly found her passion and realized, ‘this is it.’ She worked her way up from an assistant at a local Boulder salon, to Master Stylist, to suite owner. She and Pete (who she met while she was in cosmetology school) now own and operate their own certified, luxury salon in Boulder.
“We would like to change the hair industry by showing that we can run a successful salon, while only creating 1 pound of trash per week.” Did you know that the beauty industry produces about 150 million pounds of trash each year? Andrea’s has curbed traditional salon waste production partly because of Boulder’s city recycling programs, and by making conscious decisions around furniture and salon materials. “The city of Boulder requires businesses to recycle and compost, which is awesome! We have low cost, local single stream recycling pickup services which eliminates the need to ship recyclables and hair across the country for reuse. As a result, our carbon footprint is very small.”
Andrea’s is the first business in Colorado to earn all four Sustainable Business Certifications from Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) in these categories:
- Energy – EnergyStar Portfolio Manager score of 75 or better
- Waste – Diversion of at least 85 percent of waste stream away from the landfill
- Water – Water savings of 15 percent better than usage predicted by code
- Transportation – More employees take sustainable forms of transportation to work than the community average
While Andrea keeps business flowing on the salon floor, Pete keeps a sharp eye on the salon’s energy reports to monitor just how much is used by the business each day. “We monitor our power usage on a per plug basis and use IoT (Internet of Things) automation, hardware, and software to track and reduce power use. Our solar panels produce more power than we use!” The team also reduce their carbon footprint by taking a few above-and-beyond (but practical) steps, like:
- Enforcing a lunch break policy to reduce resources.
- Providing bicycles for the employees to ride to and from work, bus passes, and charging stations for electric cars.
- Utilizing a gym and showers behind the salon.
- Using reusable white boards instead of paper, glass containers instead of plastic, high-efficiency water fixtures, organic and cruelty-free products with compostable packaging.
Just because this salon is eco-friendly and efficient, doesn’t mean that it’s short on beautiful design! Andrea’s also shares a space with a shared, local art gallery that houses work from independent artists. Salon guests are encouraged to tour the space before appointments or while color processes, and this is also where the salon holds education classes from guest industry educators.
When it came to building their business from the ground up, Andrea and Pete turned to the industry for inspiration and guidance. “We turned to the connections that we made at trade shows for business advice. Over the years, we have met some of the best hairdressers and salon owners in the industry. Their recommendations on what to do and what not to do were very helpful. I also read a few books on how to open a salon and downloaded some of PBA’s documents online.”
Take a virtual tour of Andrea’s and see sustainability in action!