1319 NE Fremont St
Portland, Oregon, Usa
When I opened the doors to Ginger Salon in 2008, I had a vision far beyond winning the title of favorite Portland salon (a title our salons have happily accepted more than once). My why was radically deeper and authentically connected to a greater purpose – to be a force for good and an agent of change in the lives of my employees, customers, and community.
My commitment to considering the impact of the salon’s decisions on its employees, customers, suppliers, community, and environment has led to the distinguished honor of being named North America’s FIRST ever certified B Corp Salon – while subsequently trailblazing new salon standards, which are being adopted locally and beyond.
I experienced firsthand the reality of excelling as a stylist but struggling deeply to make ends meet – or live a life that offered any promise of balance or financial rewards- as a young new talent in a high-end salon. One month in 2007 I brought in $22,000 for this previous employer, only to take home $1,500.
And this was not my story alone. As I spoke with industry peers, I learned this reality was pervasive. A reality that meant working long hours with nothing more than minimum wage to show for it. A reality that often evaded tax laws – resulting in the inability to ever apply for home or car loans – while simultaneously negatively impacting the very communities wherein salons exist. A reality that meant parents had to choose between working to make ends meet or being an active participant in their children’s lives. Health insurance, as well as short and long term disability, was never a part of the picture. And with a goal of earning just enough to make ends meet, the idea of being a breadwinner for the family was so far off, it seemed near impossible.
These realities fueled an empowering conversation with the boss of the salon I had been working for in 2007 – a conversation that angered the salon owner and subsequently left me jobless.
Jobless in the poor economic climate that was 2007/ 2008 meant one of two things. I could either sleep on my parents’ couch while using every ounce of self love to fight off the disappointment of my parents – or – I could start my own salon.
I chose to start my own salon. And with the harsh realities of the industry still pristinely fresh in my heart and on my mind, the salon I created was birthed with the driving force of creating a sustainable model that does it all differently – in order to uplift, empower, inspire, and equip its members to thrive – beyond just survive. And when they thrive, so does the community. And then the world.
The result? A salon that is committed to growing the community while growing oneself, while putting focused and deliberate intention on what each employee, including myself, wants his/her/their imprint to be.
Every single Ginger Salon employee is the breadwinner for their family.
Many are homeowners – on their own accord, often surprising the loan officers as their financials shatter the preconceived biases surrounding funding hairdressers. I’ll never forget the story of Abigail, one of many Ginger stylists who own their own homes. Abigail went to a broker to buy a home with her husband. The broker, learning she was a stylist, didn’t even want to use her income for the home loan because, as he thought, it would hurt her interest rate. When she provided proof of income with her pay stubs, his first reaction was to tell her they were fake. “Hairstylists do not make that much money.” As it turns out, the only reason Abigail and her husband could buy a home is because of HER income, not her husband’s.
All employees are given platinum health insurance, paid time off, the highest levels of short and long term disability (so that no matter what happens physically, their families are taken care of).
A split shift 35 hour work week means employees are present for their families while also being the breadwinners, and a structured schedule allows for long term childcare.
All tips are paid via credit card, so there is appropriate recording for tax purposes. I personally pay into each employee’s social security and unemployment.
And with complete awareness of the importance of rest, everyone gets paid holidays off, sick time, and up to five weeks of PTO, so that their life experience is calm – without negative financial impacts.
There’s room for play, which is a requirement in my world. Formal attire Bunko night and the annual Water Wars competition is just the tip of the iceberg when telling the story of our work-play balance.
By lifting up and protecting employees who are otherwise taken advantage of, I have created a family of salons that is truly a model for salons in Portland and globally. Since becoming a certified B Corp salon, I have witnessed a shift in the way Portland salons are running their own businesses. In order to be competitive with the young workforce – and respected by clients – they, too, must level up.
In my experience, running this sustainable salon business model is simply the right thing to do; it’s the only sustainable thing to do. I am the voice for young, uneducated people in this industry. I feel that it is my job to do this work this way, because I was born with the ability to lead people and the guts to own a business, to grow a community, and make my community stronger. It should not be the goal to become more and more wealthy. The stronger my employees, the stronger my community. It benefits everyone.
In order to become a certified B Corp, Ginger salon has undergone annual rigorous testing since its first certification in 2013. In addition to what I’ve mentioned, here are more ways Ginger has systematically affirmed our commitment to being a force of good in this world:
Creating and Managing Inclusive Work Environments
-We include a statement in all our job postings with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
-We conduct anonymous or “blind” reviews of applications or resumes without attaching names or identifiable characteristics
-We conduct analyses of our job description language and requirements to ensure they are inclusive and equitable
-We offer trainings for all employees on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion
Community: Civic Engagement & Giving
-Financial or in-kind donations (excluding political causes)
-Community or pro-bono service
-Partnerships with charitable organizations or membership with community organizations
322+ volunteer hours annually
Employee Financial Security
-100% of non-executive employees received a bonus this year
-Cost of living adjustments that match inflation rates of the country
-Bonuses or profit-sharing
-Employee ownership opportunities
-Work – life balance with 25+ paid vacation days
Career Development of our Employees
-We have a formal onboarding process for new employees
-We offered ongoing training on core job responsibilities to employees within the last year
-We have a policy to encourage internal promotions and hiring for advanced positions (e.g. posting job openings internally first)
-We provide non-career-specific life-skill training (e.g. financial literacy, English as a Second Language)
-We provide reimbursements or programs for intensive continuing education credentials (e.g. college degrees, professional licensures)
-Exclusive use of KEVIN.MURPHY products: biodegradable and recyclable packaging, as well as products made with natural ingredients from sustainable and renewable sources- and harvested in a way that does not harm the environment.
-Reducing single use materials
I made the decision to carry KEVIN.MURPHY products exclusively because our business models are in direct alignment: employee rights, social responsibility and protection of the environment. We share the same values and vision: Uplift all, and the rewards are endless.
Our story begins in 2008 and continues to this day.