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May 30, 2018

Hair and makeup salon pioneers green practices

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Salon owner Jacquelyn Rodriguez with customer Kristy Dunaway, who says: “I’ve got a sensitive scalp. The fact that she doesn’t use chemicals is a win-win for me.”
I’m always trying to find the next new thing that we can get out of the salon to make sure it is green and less harmful to ourselves and the environment.
— Jacquelyn Rodriguez, Enlightened Styles owner
Enlightened Styles
• What: Hair style and makeup salon.

• Where: 110 W. Shirley Ave., Warrenton

• Owner: Jacquelyn Rodriguez

• Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, noon-8 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday.

• Phone: 540-935-2150

• Website: http://www.enlightenedstyles.com

• Facebook page: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Warrenton hairstylist’s two young children helped turn around her business model.

“I was cleaning the bathroom” at home about eight years ago “and they kept coming inside,” recalls Jacquelyn Rodriguez, owner of Enlightened Styles, a hair and makeup salon at 110 W. Shirley Ave. “And I kept yelling at them to get out of the bathroom, because I didn’t want them breathing these chemicals in. It’s too harmful for them.”

Then it occurred to Mrs. Rodriguez, 36, that she and her customers shouldn’t be exposed to chemical-based hair products or inhale their fumes.

“It was like, ‘What’s in my shampoo? What’s in my makeup? What’s in my lotions that we’re putting on ourselves daily’?”

After extensive research, the Harrisonburg native decided she would use only organic, non-toxic and “sustainable” salon products, which promote healthy hair care and allow her to recycle and reduce waste whenever possible.

Mrs. Rodriguez three years began to introduce those products at Enlightened Styles.

“We’re one of the only salons that is eco-friendly and holistic around here,” helping to set her business apart from local competitors, she says. “We care about the environment.

“As an industry, we use a lot of stuff that is harming the environment, whether it be chemicals or the sheer amount of (aluminum) foils” to add highlights to hair.

Not Enlightened Styles, though.

Aluminum foil, for example, takes about eight years to decompose, she says.

As a substitute, her salon uses tapioca/starch-based foil, which “breaks down” in about three months “because it’s biodegradable,” Mrs. Rodriguez says.

Enlightened Styles also uses companies that recycle hair and unused coloring.

And, it gives discounts to customers who return with empty product containers to replenish rather than replace them.

“I’m always trying to find the next new thing that we can get out of the salon to make sure it is green and less harmful to ourselves and the environment,” Mrs. Rodriguez says. “I love to be innovative. That’s what my passion is.”

Taking a “holistic” approach and using only organic products, the salon provides treatments that address skin and scalp, not just hair issues, the licensed cosmetologist says.

Because its practices help advance Warrenton’s commitment to “green” initiatives, the salon received a town government matching $5,000 small business grant.

“We’re looking to promote green, sustainable businesses and wellness,” town Economic Development Manager Tom Wisemiller says.

The salon also got a matching $2,000 tourism grant and a matching $1,967 technology grant through the Fauquier County Economic Development Authority, according to county Business Coordinator Beverley Pullen.

Among other things, the technology grant helped to create the business’s website and buy booking software, Mrs. Rodriguez says.

The salon used the tourism grant to promote its bridal services, which draw out-of-town clients, the veteran cosmetologist explains.

“We did a lot of marketing, because we do a lot of bridal (work). A lot of our brides don’t actually live here. So we bring a lot of people from outside of Warrenton.”

Because of that, “we would send them to restaurants and go shopping and help them figure out what to do in the area.”

“It has a multiplier effect for our businesses,” Ms. Pullen says.

Bridal work comprises about 25 percent of her business, Mrs. Rodriguez says.

Hair styling and makeup for each bridal party member cost $180.

Customer response has been uniformly positive to her use of organic products, she says.

“They love the fact that it’s clean and they don’t get a headache when they walk in,” because of chemical odors typically associated with salons. “I’m sure there were one or two that didn’t care, one way or another. But they were happy I was taking those steps.”

Kristy Dunaway of Warrenton and the salon owner met three years ago at a business meeting in Gainesville.

When Mrs. Rodriguez told her about Enlightened Styles, “I was like, ‘Wow, she does organic! I’ve never heard of an organic salon. I’ll try it out’,” Ms. Dunaway, 40, recalls during a salon appointment last week. “I’ve got a sensitive scalp. The fact that she doesn’t use chemicals is a win-win for me.”

For Vicki Phelan of Manassas, who has suffered from Crohns disease since age 6, organic products and the salon treatments have proven indispensable to maintaining healthy hair.

Ms. Phelan for 39 years has taken powerful medications to combat the gastrointestinal disease.

“The medicines are really like chemotherapy drugs,” the 45-year-old assisted living facility administrator explains in a telephone interview. “They can rip your hair to shreds. They dry it out; they can make it break very easily.”

Years ago, she discovered the curative powers of organic hair treatment.

So when Ms. Phelan moved from New Jersey to Virginia two years ago, she searched online for an organic salon and found Enlightened Styles — “only one of two” such places within “driving distance” of her home.

Ms. Phelan visits the salon every six weeks for a procedure to “rebuild” her hair and every three weeks for a coloring.

“It strengthens my hair, makes it healthy, shiny,” she says of the rebuilding process, which costs $60 per treatment. “It makes my hair feel the way it’s supposed to . . . like normal hair.”

Enlightened Styles’ customer service also made believers of Ms. Dunaway and Ms. Phelan.

“It’s a cattle-call” at many places, says Ms. Dunaway, a sales and marketing consultant. “You’re in, you’re out. And they’re trying to fit people in while you’re there. She knows you, your family. She also takes care of my 12-year-old daughter. She knows what you want.”

While organic products add an average 15 percent to her overall costs, “I’m actually very comparable to all the salons around here,” Mrs. Rodriguez says. “I don’t want to overprice this so much that people can’t afford it.”

Ms. Dunaway’s highlighting, root touch up and styling cost $230.

The salon’s green practices appeal to a growing number of clients, the Warrenton resident says.

But most people “found us” and “want to come to us because of our reviews and our good history with our clientele,” Mrs. Rodriguez says. “Your experience throughout the whole salon is very quiet, very calm, very holistic, even if they’re not into the green.”

Mrs. Rodriguez has about 18 years of salon experience, working at shops in Harrisonburg, Winchester and Northern Virginia.

For about three years, she traveled to the homes of clients who grew tired of driving to Northern Virginia for styling services.

In 2014, Enlightened Styles opened in a shared storefront at 30 N. Fifth St. in Old Town Warrenton.

About 18 months ago, the salon moved to West Shirley Avenue.

The salon employs two full-time people, including the owner’s mother, one part-timer and a contract worker who helps with big weddings.

It has 250 regular customers, including 15 men, Mrs. Rodriguez estimates.

“I am blessed that business is going extremely well. We’re looking to add hairstylists in the future. My dream is to be able to open more than one salon and improve on how we can make it greener and how we can serve our clients better.”

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