I just love learning about people – the paths they’ve travelled and the choices they’ve made.  I’m also very blessed to enjoy the services of some beautiful heart-centred businesses.

So, putting the two together, I’m really interested to learn why these people do what they do. I’ve already written about why I do what I do here.

Heart-centred business are usually those motivated by passion rather than financial gain and most serve to contribute to the community in some way, whether it’s  for the environment or for the good of common humanity.

There’s got to be a story behind the why, and so begins my series on ‘Everybody’s Got A Story.’

First up, the gorgeous Sarah from Sass Organics.

Sarah owns and manages an organic hair salon, using as few chemicals as possible.   Now, I’m no hairdresser, but I can see that it would probably be so much cheaper and easier to use conventional products, so why does she do what she does?

I recently sat down with Sarah and she told me that there was little doubt that she would be a hairdresser.

“I remember being about 4 years old and sitting on my dad’s lap braiding My Little Pony’s hair.  I used to walk past hair salons and I just had a love affair with the smells and all the pretty girls.”

“All through primary school, I’d have one of the girls sitting in the aisle of the school bus while I did their hair.  It was my creative outlet all through school and, in high school, people would pay me to do braids or cornrows.”

“I never thought I’d own a salon though.  I wanted to work on a cruise ship for a while.  When I was 14, I wanted to work on the set of ‘Home and Away.’  I thought that would be the ultimate.”

Sarah managed to get early access to a school-based Certificate II in Hairdressing at the end of Year 9.  It sounds like her teachers were all for it!  Not that she was naughty or behind in her work, she just wasn’t settled.  All she wanted to do was hairdressing.

“Even if I couldn’t be doing people’s hair, I’d rather be cleaning and stocking shelves than stay at school.”

Sarah finished her Cert II and was offered a full apprenticeship.  She moved out on her own and, at one stage, she was working three jobs at once.  She eventually moved back to her home town with her partner as a senior hairdresser and pregnant with her first child.

After her baby was born, Sarah worked from home and went back to college for a time.

It was during this time that Sarah went to a salon for her routine colour treatment. Within minutes of the colour being applied, she noticed her hands begin to itch.  Her mouth went dry and her lips went numb.  Her feet were burning and her face was bright red.  She was feeling irritated and angry and her throat was constricting.

The hairdresser raced her to the basin and began to rinse out the colour, but the more she rinsed, the worse Sarah’s symptoms became.

Luckily, there was a medical centre across the road from the salon.  Sarah managed to make it over there and was given an adrenalin shot.  She was kept under observation and given another adrenaline shot until her symptoms began to subside.

When she got home, she began to develop a migraine and uncontrollable vomiting.  “I think it was my body trying to get rid of the poisons.”

Now, given that Sarah had been having the same colour treatment for some time, what led to this sudden reaction?  Who knows?  Sarah thinks it could have been caused by a medication she had recently been prescribed, as that was the only difference.  Perhaps it could have been an accumulation of the chemicals. 

Regardless of the cause, Sarah was warned that she would not be able to be in contact with those chemicals again.  Each time she was exposed, her reaction would be worse, and possibly fatal.  She continued to work but needed to be heavily gloved – not an ideal situation for a hairdresser.

As time went on, housing affordability sky-rocketed in the mining town Sarah and her partner were living in, so they decided to move and look at purchasing their own salon.  They looked everywhere from Ballina to Biloela and decided on a salon in Hervey Bay.

The salon was set up as an organic salon but Sarah said that she was going to swap it over to conventional products and just make sure that she wasn’t exposed to any chemicals.

During the handover phase, the previous owner held a bowl of bleach under Sarah’s nose and told her to smell it.  Sarah instantly backed away but then took a sniff.  It smelled like bubblegum!  She was pretty skeptical whether this organic stuff would actually work though.

She tried it on clients and was amazed at the results – all with no smell, no irritation and no blisters.  “I thought everyone should know about this so I focused more on sharing the message rather than growing the business.  The business grew as a result.”

Here’s the pearl of this story, and why we love Sarah

Sarah says that it is her clients who educate her, instead of the other way around.

“I was pretty honest that I didn’t know a lot about it, but the clients that the salon attracts have the skillset to teach me so much.”

“My dad always taught me that you need to be a sponge – take it all in.  Keep what you need and let the rest go.”

When asked about working with organic products, Sarah said, “Sometimes there might be some inconsistencies because the products are made fresh, in small batches, but you learn to manage that with experience.  It only takes 26 seconds for our skin to absorb chemicals, so I think going organic is better for my clients, better for my staff and better for my own health.”

Sarah has now moved to a town well over an hour away from the salon, but she still works in the salon for two days a week. 

I asked Sarah if maybe it would be easier to have sold the salon.  She said, “Do you now, if we had have bought any other salon, I couldn’t have been a hands-on hairdresser.  I would have been stuck doing the books and admin and stuff.  I would have HATED that.”

“Besides, now that we’re providing this service, I can’t stop.  Where would my clients go?”

Thanks Sarah!  You are an everyday legend!