Wabi Sabi Salon in Northcote, recently celebrated their very first birthday! The salon feel is based on the traditional Japanese Wabi Sabi philosophy of accepting your imperfections and making the most of life. “Wabi Sabi the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental.”
After 6 years in Melbourne Sarah-Lee Eastwood returned home to open her dream salon. We caught up with Sarah-Lee find out more about this fascinating philosophy and how it is working for her business.
Wabi Sabi is an interesting name for a hair salon, what convinced you to go down this road?
Well it was more who tried to talk me out of it. Its an interesting path to go down and many including myself maybe a tiny bit wasn’t 100% if the shore let alone Auckland was ready for something like WABi SABi, Not to be mistaken for Wasabi. haha!
It is an ancient Japanese philosophy and state of mind based on that beauty comes from imperfection and simplicity. Appreciating and accepting the flow of life and embracing everything as beautiful. It encourages you to slow down, reconnect with nature and be gentler on yourself! This helped me in my own life to find whats important and I wanted to create an environment that felt that.
How do your clients relate to the Wabi Sabi feel on the salon?
Everyone has embraced it and loves it. Its a scary thing for people to allow themselves time to slow down and be kinder to yourself. We should be able to feel ourselves and be who we want to be and feel accepted. When I get feedback of how our guests feel in our space, all I can do is raise my hands up and say yay we are doing it!!
Wabi Sabi means tranquility, harmony, beauty and imperfection, how does the salon interpret these values?
We have created a homely space and our culture creates that! Its an easy to navigate space and warm and inviting. We talk people out of the idea of having to conform to the norm!
We educate and help people get used to their own hair and embrace what life gave them or at least help them keep their high maintenance locks a low maintenance journey with us. Life’s for living and no one wants to feel like a slave to having good hair.
The products that you use and sell in your salon are they in keeping with the philosophy?
What we educate and recommend is super important to us and the values we hold as a salon. Every brand we introduce has to sit with our philosophy. Kevin Murphy is our salons go to product and everything this brand identifies as, fits our values.
It not only performs incredibly well and of high caliber, its simple to understand, kind and gentle on the hair. They genuinely care for the environment and what impact they have on our planet and people. They don’t conform to the norm and they think outside the square. Family and diversity is at the forefront of the brand and we truly feel this.
I don’t feel like they try to be anything but real and thats our main value! Real and raw! We feel so proud to be partnered with such a dedicated authentic brand like Kevin Murphy and Crew distributors are like family to us, we can’t fault them and they have been team wabi sabi from day one and it means so much to us to have them on board, the support is unbelievably incredible.
There has been a massive move to sustainability in general, how has Wabi Sabi embraced this?
I have personally been on this journey to a more sustainable life for a few years and also another important one for us is nothing tested on our fur babies. We don’t mind a little diamond in the rough and almost everything in our salon fit out is up cycled. It’s not about being seen to be sustainable for us.
We give a damn and we wanna make a difference and we wanna learn more and do better. Something that made me proud recently was when our junior stylist Melissa shared our positive impact certificate from the inspiring team at sustainable salons and she said..
“When you know better, you do better and it feels so good to be apart of making a difference.” Thats a real proud humbling moment for me! Having my team care too is so important. Our guests see our passion to do better and its a huge part of who we are.
We are so happy to see more and more salons taking the steps to a more sustainable salon life, its so exciting. Its something thats really bothered my days in a salon setting as a stylist over the years and seeing all the waste. I’m feeling so much more content knowing we can actually create epic hair magic without hurting our planet so much.
Its just little simple steps in the right direction, its not about being perfect and in wabi sabi style, one of our favourite mantras is “We don’t need a handful of people being perfectly sustainable, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
What do you feel sets Wabi Sabi apart from the normal run of the mill salon?
Embracing real and not conforming to the norm. Thinking outside the square of what is usually done. Not playing it safe and doing things how we want.
Are clients demanding more natural, organic products and hair colour?
I think yes and no. I think people learn a lot off us educating them on why we choose our brands. We definitely have some people who find us through our values and I think you always tend to bring in your vibe. People are definitely becoming more and more aware and conscious thought which is great to see.
In your humble opinion, what do you think keeps clients coming back to your salon?
Your vibe attracts your tribe right… I think our authentic real and chilled culture keeps people coming and referring their friends. We have mainly grown our client base on work of mouth.
Our values that we uphold and the consistency of our experience that we offer would play a big part of that. Theres no short cuts and we keep things really laid back, homely and comfortable with all life’s simple treats and pleasures to enjoy the moment.
Is there a secret of achieving a successful salon?
I guess I’m still learning this but I do truly believe in just going with your gut and not always listening to what everyone tells you to do. Honestly though success is what you make it and if you are creating your vision then isn’t that success in itself.
Having a happy team and salon guests who join our culture and love it as much as us is success to me. I couldn’t have done all this so far without my team or our guests who joined the WABi SABi Tribe! We really do have an epic salon culture and its only the beginning…
108 Onewa Road Northcote