Feature image: Jessica MacCormick
Founded by Olivia Crighton, the Glasshouse Salon is a niche, London-based hub for organic products and treatments for your hair, face and body. The salon promotes an inviting atmosphere and genuine passion for the products they stock; accompanied by their online journal and stunning social feeds, they beautifully communicate products that are both kind to you and the environment. As we’re a fan, we decided to sit down with Crighton to hear about how she began Glasshouse Salon, her favourite moments so far, and, her hopes for the future of hair & beauty.
We’d love to hear a bit about you; have you always had a passion for beauty and haircare? What was your career before you began Glasshouse Salon? What has the journey of getting to where it is today been like for you?
I’m from New Zealand originally where an organic and holistic approach to life is more common, but my passion has really come from a desire to look after myself and my body. I became unwell around nine years ago and was suffering from a lot of allergies, so I had to make some significant lifestyle changes and rethink my entire diet. This then this extended to what I was putting on my skin and hair. I was already a hairstylist by this point, but my journey toward using more natural and organic products had started.
What does Glasshouse Salon look for in a product or brand to share with your customers?
At Glasshouse we look for brands that not only have an appreciation for beautiful design, but for beautiful ingredients. We source products that are as safe, gentle and natural as possible without compromising on high performance. Sustainability is also an increasingly important part of our criteria for new brands in terms of the way the packaging is made and the way the ingredients are sourced.
As a small business I also hugely value the integrity of other companies and so we stock a lot of independent brands. This way we can have a really personal relationship with each brand we stock, working together to provide our clients with products that perform well, look good and contain wholesome ingredients.
How do you hope a woman or man feels when they experience the salon?
When I first moved to London I used to do my friends’ hair at my home in my living room and I began to question why salons had to feel so intimating for people. I wanted Glasshouse to feel like a comfortable, cosy space as well as being functional. When clients arrive, I hope they feel that they are treated as an individual rather than just another ‘customer’. We listen to each client intently to ensure we can give them the best experience possible, making sure they are well looked after with whatever they need – whether that’s a hot drink or a glass of wine! I also think our salon has a sense of privacy in comparison to some other spaces as our window is above street level, avoiding the attention of any passers-by.
I’m sure there have been many, but what would you say is your top ‘pinch me’ moment since founding Glasshouse Salon?
Glasshouse Salon opened officially in early 2013, and when we got our first piece of press in Monocle Magazine that year I realised that the salon was no longer just my personal dream but was becoming an established business that others were reading about.
There have been many moments since then and I never thought that 5 years down the line we would be at a point where we have a waiting list to get an appointment, but there’s nothing more satisfying than just seeing the salon busy and full of life.
Most importantly I love to get good feedback from clients about their experience. I want to know that people are receiving the unique experience that I originally set out to create when I opened the salon for the first time.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to begin a niche business?
We were one of the first salons to work in a truly organic and holistic way which I think has been a large part of our success. I believe if you have integrity and are doing something really special everyone else will see that too.
What do you hope for the future of beauty and haircare?
I hope that more salons will start to eliminate the use of potentially harmful and irritant chemicals in their colour and care products such as ammonia and resorcinol, using brands such as Organic Colour Systems instead. This is an important switch to make that benefits both our personal health and the environment. I think salons also have a responsibility to reduce waste through recycling and minimising our consumption of water and energy.
I think the growth in the market has come mostly from consumer demand. Larger brands are tapping into the market in a big way now, with the global natural cosmetics market expected to reach £34b by 2019 and the recent Soil Association report showing that 23% of UK consumers avoided buying certain cosmetic products for ethical reasons in 2017. Although lot of these brands don’t have the same integrity and ethos as some smaller brands, they do have the budgets to really propel this (previously niche) part of the industry forward. This means we can hopefully expect even better higher performing products with more sustainable and sustainably sourced ingredients. It’s to up to us to make informed choices about what we use and where we spend our money as this will influence where big corporates will put effort into research and growth.