On a rainy day I met with a young red- haired lady, that runs Feima hairsalon
downtown Reykjavík. She has been doing so since she was 21 years old.
She has been figuring out how to run a business for almost a decade, how
to make it on her own. She is quiet and low- key in her manners but very
strong-minded about certain things, like the environment, style, happiness and hair.
Hello! Do you have an organic banana to go with my haircut? No, just kidding. So if I get it right, you are trying to be as green and organic as possible?
Everything we offer is organic for example organic coffee, tea, fruit and you name it for the customer. We buy fruits and vegetable from the green market and Yggdrasill, they are all organic. This concept, to run this green hair salon, is about preventing allergy and also to protect the environment.
We have been lucky enough to have a couple of different waste containers just outside the salon. Feima- hair salon emphasizes on being very conscious about waste and throw-aways of their material that is being used. You can call it my passion in my field of running this salon.
“I have always been against this
over- chemical world that we live in”
So, are you the only one that is running a green- salon in Iceland?
I really don´t know if there are other hair- salons in Iceland or if this is the only one, but I can assure you that if I would run the world, all hair salons would be green. There is no way to get this kind of certification here in Iceland and that has to change. I have always been against this over- chemical world that we live in. For example, I buy everything organic for my household and such.
How has going green affected you and your clients?
These products have been working well for people that have allergies, and especially for pregnant women, because their immune systems are sensitive and they are more likely to get stronger allergic reactions. Many clients feel less of a burning sensation in the scalp after colouring their hair.
When I think about it I often had headaches and I always thought it was because of my sour muscles. But when we changed the products that we use in the salon, they went away. These products are also much better for the skin. The purpose is to make the salon more healthier for the people that come here and do business with us.
Those who have allergies are better off working with these materials also, for example hairdressers that can´t work with chemical materials, but can employ themselves in green- salons.
So if you are a woman in the hair-profession, you could still work while pregnant?
If you are working in salon that is green or organic, you should be able to. Also as I mentioned earlier, if you look at the bigger picture this evolves around awareness about the world biosphere and so on.
I´ve been shown Danish studies that hairdressers, farmers and gardeners are more prominent to give birth to children with defects, for example on their genitals, and allergies. That is interesting, I must read these Danish sources then! We should all think about these things.
What does this Swan- certified logo mean?
It is the official Nordic eco-label. They have strict requirements to minimize environmental impacts and to ensure that the product is better for the environment and people´s health, without sacrificing quality.
It has also to do with the nutrient in products and to minimize the usage of hazardous substances. The main components that people are familiar with are parabens, which is a hormone disruptive chemical. Swan- certified products are free of parabens, silicone, sensitizing fragrance, hormone disturbing chemicals and known carcinogens.
“I think about trends in hair, my ultimate vision is to make the field of hair more health- orientated”
What products do you use in the salon?
I use Zenz Organic Hair Products and John Masters Organics, and the colours I use are called Elumen and logos. Some of the John Masters products have the USDA organic- certification and the Zenz products have the Swan- certification.
So, to turn to something else, how do you like to run this salon in this street, Óðinsgata?
I like to be here, in the heart of the down-town area. There are many hotels here, so that our clients are very various: travellers from all over the world, exchange-students from the University that live close by and people from this neighbourhood in a blend with our old customers. This neighbourhood is lively and our neighbours are friendly. The atmosphere is a little bit like a small-town feeling, I like it a lot. I think about trends in hair of course, but my ultimate vision is to make the field of hair more health- orientated, both for us that work in the field and for the customers of our services.
Well I almost forgot, how has it been running a salon for so long, you were so young when you started?
I was jumping in the deep-end of the pool when I started out in this business, I was young and had no experience of running a company. I am very glad that I did it, I have learned so much over this almost a decade. This experience has made me a stronger person that has strengthen me as a manager and the owner of the salon. My family has also always been very supportive, and always willing to offer a helping hand.
What is your passion in hair, what is your vision?
I think about trends in hair of course, but my ultimate vision is to make the field of hair more health- orientated, both for us that work in the field and for the customers of our services. It has also a huge say for the environment, imagine all the chemicals that are left in our nature systems by the industry!
”I think fashion and this green lifestyle should go hand in hand”
Fashion and innovation have always been a strong elements for me and Feima- salon. Well that’s given, if you don’t give attention to what is new and happening, you will be left behind in this field of work. I´m influenced by arts, fashion and trends. My favourite eras in hair, that always influence me in one way or another, are Charleston quotations, the rockabilly element and other things. I like to blend those references together with modern influences.
But all in all I think fashion and this green lifestyle should go hand in hand. Some think that it´s not hip enough or something, but it should be our number one fashion element today!
Now, what about talking to the client, when in the chair. Can that be difficult in some way?
Well, that’s a good question. The hairdresser should be able to talk about whatever comes up at the time. Of course I have my own opinions, but at the same time I have to respect that the client has a totally different view on things. You have to listen to people a lot and be in the psychologist role in that sense. It’s a part of the profession. Some clients I have known for a long time, so we get very personal at times.
On the other hand, my clients get the lecture now and then from me, about this health and organic and green matters.
What about you, are you a healthy person? I heard you where straight-edge?
Well, I don’t drink and I am healthy in my lifestyle I guess. But I can tell you that I listen to death metal. But I don’t play that kind of music in the salon though.
“when everybody is out, and I´m cleaning up at night, the radio-station goes off and my metal goes on!”
This straight- edge concept, well I don’t think about it as a label. But when everybody is out, and I´m cleaning up at night, the radio-station goes off and my metal goes on in the salon! I really like that young kids are into this lifestyle though, and I thought of it as a brand myself when I was younger. Maybe I´m not the stereotype for the hardcore metal listener anyways!
What kind of music do you play then, at the salon?
I try to play mild music, but it has to be something that I personally like. Nick Cave is a good example, I mean, who doesn’t like him?
I have to ask you this. You are a red- head. Are there many red- heads in Iceland?
In my knowledge, there are unusually many, compared to other places. Maybe this has to do with our celtic/irish genes? I think stereotyping of red-haired people is very wrong particularly in the context of bullying, this hair-colour is and should be desirable, if something else. I think your red- hair is very noticeable and beautiful. Well, thank you! I think this red-hair war has diminished and this has become more sought after. There are many myths about natural red hair and I kinda like those.
I thanked Rán for the tour of her little salon while zipping up my coat. I end the day by walking Óðinsgata street to its end, with a passion inspired mind, thinking about chemicals, hair and the young Viking woman that walked the street proudly in her awareness- battle in the hair industry.
Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís