Earth-friendly hair care evangelists

Enterprise: Eco Salon Supplies

What makes them special: The business supports over 350 salons across Australia in becoming more sustainable by providing them with environmentally friendly products and tools.

Amanda Thompson worked in marketing, customer relations and HR roles in Brisbane’s automotive industry for 15 years. But when she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease – an autoimmune disorder that affects the body’s hormone system – she decided to open a luxury hair salon. “I quickly realised that [using] only a standard Western medicine-based approach wasn’t for me,” Amanda says. “I wanted to repair the source of the issues, not just treat the symptoms, so I began cutting all chemicals from my life. The challenge was huge, and hairdressers at the time had very little knowledge about the ingredients that were in their products. Finding reliable information was difficult.”

Over the next eight years, Amanda set about establishing a hair salon group, Naturally Organic Hair Salons (NATORG), then a distribution company (Eco Salon Supplies) to help other salons wanting to follow a similar path, for other people looking to live a chemical-free life, and to move the beauty and haircare industry towards more sustainable modes of operating.

“We’re always looking for new ways to help support the Brisbane business community.”

Since launching the business with her husband, Simon, in Brisbane in 2015, Amanda has grown Eco Salon Supplies into Australia and New Zealand’s largest niche distributor specialising in sustainable options for professional hairdressers and beauticians. 

“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, personally and professionally,” Amanda avers. We’re continuously supporting ethical, environmentally conscious brands that are moving the needle and helping us create a more planet-friendly industry.”

Through their own hair care brand, SOPHIC, Amanda and Simon have been able to integrate all of the best practices and approaches they’ve observed over the last 15 years into a product range that is naturally free from any synthetic fragrances, sulfates, silicones, artificial colourants, petrochemicals, parabens, propylene glycol or phthalates. 

“As well as being 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free, the SOPHIC care range is packaged in recycled glass bottles and infinitely reusable metal tins,” Amanda explains. “To further minimise our carbon footprint, we decided to source as many ingredients as possible (which became over 80 per cent) from within a 50km radius of our Brisbane HQ. Joining B Corp as a certified business helps with that education process on how to be a more socially responsible business.”

Beyond the sustainability measures within its own business, Eco Salon Supplies supports over 350 salons across Australia in becoming more sustainable by providing them with environmentally friendly products and tools, and educating them on how they can operate with a lighter impact on the earth. “We’re always looking for new ways to help support the Brisbane business community, whether that’s by purchasing their ingredients or products, supporting local social enterprises or developing a group of eco advocates to spread the enthusiasm around the country to help them operate in a way that will better benefit the planet, their customers and their business as a whole,” Amanda says.

Having achieved an average of 35 per cent year-on-year growth in six years of operating, Amanda plans to increase her brand offering and expand her marketing into additional channels and online streams in 2023. “With new brands, new strategies and a greater focus on our education approach, we expect to increase by 50 per cent over the next calendar year. We’re forecasting $3.7 million for the financial year 2023/24,” Amanda says. “Revenue aside, we expect our network of sustainability-focused salons to continue to expand in the next few years, as Australians continue to pursue more environmentally conscious ways of living.”

This article first appeared in issue 40 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine