On the cutting edge
In Jolie Faulkner's view, the word "organic" is often used as an empty marketing tool and the practices of businesses that parade the word sometimes contradict its meaning. So when Jolie and her husband Michael discussed naming their ecofriendly salon in Hillsdale, they shoved "organic" aside and went with a name that signifies their unflinching commitment to a healthy and environmentally-conscious salon experience. They chose Ever Green Salon and Barbering Company — a name that binds "forever" and "green." The relatively new salon for men, women and children is located at 1517 S.W. Sunset Blvd. It provides extensions, coloring, waxing, beard trims, standard haircuts and other services, and is 85-95 percent wastefree. What's more, the hairstylists don't envelop the room with toxins from retrograde products. "We wanted to be an example of what the modern salon should be," Jolie Faulkner said. "Anybody opening a salon today should be opening a low-waste, eco-friendly salon. We know it's better for us. We know we shouldn't be using carcinogenic ingredients. We know we shouldn't be exposing ourselves." Faulkner has been around the hairstyling business for a long time. After braiding hair as an adolescent, she earned her beauty school license in Oceanside, Calif. at age 18. She then served as a salon assistant, managed retail salons, was a corporate trainer for Ulta and then started her own boutique salon in San Diego. But about 10 years ago, she began experiencing unpleasant reactions to hairstyle products. She would often leave work with an itchy throat and burning eyes. Realizing she needed to change her ways, she ordered a toxin-free package from the England-based Organic Color Systems. She was hesitant about changing, though, and the package sat unopened for four months. Finally, she gave it a shot — and her harsh reactions subsided. She's been using eco-friendly products
ever since. "I was intimidated by it. I finally opened it up one day and started using it and was like, 'Wow, this works just as good. There's no aroma and my clients feel better,'" Faulkner said. Now, she says she can't enter a traditional salon because of her sen
sitivity to the harsh substances. Faulkner is a part of an holistic hairstyling Facebook group and says the majority of hairstylists who change their methods did so after experiencing adverse physical reactions in their salons. While customers are susceptible to such reactions, hairstylists are the most at
risk due to the long hours they spend in salons. "Every day, stylists have to quit the industry because they develop sensitivity or an allergic reaction to the ammonia and the PDD (Paraphenylenediamine) in the hair dye," Faulkner said. Her husband, meanwhile, took a more circuitous route to becoming a co-owner and barber at the salon. A geologist for 13 years, he informed companies about environmental hazards. The job was stressful and he grew tired of it. So he went to beauty school in his late 30s, got his license and is now a barber at Ever Green. "I think he just saw me and the industry and the freedom and he developed an interest in it. He just got really lucky. He's super good at it and he loves it so much," Faulkner said. The Faulkners moved from San Diego to Portland in part because they felt like the city fit their environmentally-conscious values. But Jolie Faulkner was surprised by the underwhelming holistic salon community in Portland. "I was shocked and disappointed. There are salons out there that ad
vertise themselves as organic salons. They might carry a non-ammoniated hair color line, but that's it. They don't really fully walk the walk," she said. At the same time, the lack of holistic salons means less competition. And that's good for business. Plus, Faulkner is happy to be at the forefront of a methodology she hopes will become common practice in the near future. "I would claim to be one of the pioneers," she said. "I know people in the holistic community know my name, and I want them to continue to know my name." Hair coloring products often contain the toxic, colorless gas ammonia, but the Faulkners use Organic Way, which does not contain ammonia and comes in recyclable bottles. They also use Onesta and Hanz De Fuko products, which are made from botanical and natural plant extracts. "Not only is it (ammonia) harsh going into our system, but it's actually harsh to breathe in. It's uncomfortable, Jolie Faulkner said. "A lot of clients who go into a traditional salon report a scratchy throat, burning eyes. Their scalp can burn from it. It can be really uncomfortable experience to get their hair done. We want it to be a healthy experience. We want it to be comfortable for our clients." As part of starting Ever Green, Faulkner will give up her alter-ego — Leggings Lady. She developed quite the following selling leggings in Portland, but now says that was more of an entrepreneurial pursuit than a passion. Hairstyling is her true passion, she says, and she plans to shutter Leggings Lady by the end of the year. "I talk about her in the third person because she does have her own cult following here," Faulkner said. "But it's never been my passion project." Faulkner says Ever Green has already developed a robust clientele, for which she credits the duo's jovial personalities, their desire to connect with the Hillsdale community, their ambition and social media use. Her salon's Instagram account had 285 followers in mid-September. "We have an interest in feeling connected with our community. We have a very strong desire to be a part of something. That's why we sought out Hillsdale. We see the potential here and we like the people here," she said. Jolie Faulkner hopes to franchise Ever Green one day, and her ultimate dream is to run her own beauty academy — a place where she would teach prospective hairstylists the most eco-friendly haircutting practices. Currently, she says beauty academy programs are too long and don't focus on reducing toxin emissions. She would hope to change that. She has taught at Bella Academy, a beauty academy in Portland, and hopes to teach seminars in the near future. "A lot of clients say they
like the way I educate them and talk to them. I've had clients say, 'Wow, no one's explained that to me before.' And that's my education background. I can't help it. I want them to know why I'm doing something," Faulkner said. And beyond the eco-friendly, non-wasteful ethos, Faulkner wants her customers to feel satisfied with their haircut and the overall experience.
"I want our clients to come and be like, 'Oh my gosh I had the best experience at this salon,'" she said. Ever Green Salon and Barbering Company is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call 503-688-7504 or visit evergreensalonpdx. com.