Hair Salon Featuring Natural Products
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: D Hall
Posted on: December 29, 1998

I want to turn my salon into a natural product salon where we make our own products on the spot for clients. I need more info can you give your thoughts on this idea.

The natural product industries are expanding rapidly driven by a burgeoning consumer demand for products devoid of chemicals. Natural body care products are a definite part of the picture. You idea of offering salon products made from all natural ingredients is a good one, and in most markets today is likely to be well received provided the quality is good and the prices are not too far out of line for similar products.

It is certainly feasible to make your own herbal hair and body care products on the premises of your shop. To some extent, you can utilize the "small is beautiful" idea where you prepare products in small batches which are fresher and even customized for individual customers. A lot of the so-called "natural" products on the market are laced with preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, etc. necessitated by large run manufacture; small batches can often avoid the need for such chemical additives.

The book, "Skin Deep" (available from Richters), is an excellent resource for your project. You will find lots of recipes for all sorts of body care products including herbal hair and skin care products.

Some practical concerns you will have to address:

1. You will need to check your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations on the manufacture, packaging and labelling of body care products. It is quite possible that many of these rules do not apply in cases where products are made to order for customers. Your decision on how big or small you are going to get will depend in part on the cost of complying with government regulations.

2. Consumer expectations need to be carefully managed. Natural products are very effective, but they often cannot achieve the same results that consumers are accustomed to getting from commercial products. It may be that colours are less fast, or odour and colour are less agreeable, or cleaning ability is less dramatic. You will need to stress that natural products work more slowly and gently than commercial products laced with detergents and tar-based colours, etc.

3. You will need to develop expertise in manufacture. You will need to adapt recipes, design protocols, etc. It will take time, but there is no reason why you could not have a basic line of products within a year of experimentation.

A huge marketing plus can be gained on the competition if you can figure out how to make products with locally-grown fresh herbs. At first you will be relying on dried herbs and oils, but if you develop lines of supply of small amounts of fresh chamomile, rosemary, sage, and other important herbs, and then market your products as fresh-made, small-batch products, you will have a winning concept.

Always, when developing a new product line, keep meticulous records of costs and labour, including yours. Everything has to make economic sense in the end: if you are not able to sell your products for four times your manufacturing costs and labour, you will eventually lose interest in the project. You need at least four times costs because this sort of project requires highly specialized knowledge (yours) to make it successful, and because you will have to cover the cost of retailing your products.

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