In the UK, vegans are one of the fastest-growing social groups. A study by Sainsbury’s says that a quarter of all British people will be vegan or vegetarian in 2025. Offering vegan hairdressing or beauty services can be a way of attracting new clients by responding to a continuing boom in consumer demand. No additional skills are necessary and there’s no need to update your salon insurance. Your non-vegan clients can of course continue to feel at home in your salon too. If you offer vegan products that give great results and are good for the environment, you’ll keep all of your client base happy.
But welcoming vegans into your salon or therapy room involves a bit more than just finding products that are both cruelty-free and contain no animal ingredients. You will also have to provide an environment that is friendly and safe to vegan clients. This blog gives you a few pointers to help you ensure that you offer a service to vegans that is memorable – for all the right reasons!
KNOW YOUR VEGANS, VEGETARIANS AND PLANT BASED PEOPLE
A vegetarian follows a meat-free diet but may eat dairy or eggs. Sometimes people who avoid meat but do eat fish call themselves vegetarian (but the right term is pescatarian!). Vegetarianism is a dietary choice and impacts on people’s lifestyles. For example, vegetarians probably wouldn’t want to use products that were tested on animals, but they might not object to sitting on a leather sofa or wearing leather shoes.
Vegans on the other hand usually lead an all-encompassing lifestyle that avoids any products that involve cruelty to animals. They have a diet free of all animal products – no meat, no fish, no dairy, not even honey. They would not wear animal products nor have them in their homes, so no leather, no wool, no silk. Most believe in a theory called anti-speciesism. This means that the lives of all species have equal value and that all non-human animals have feelings; they experience happiness and pain and therefore should be treated with kindness and compassion. So vegans avoid anything that exploits animals, such as wool or honey and are against sport involving animals such as horse racing.
Thirdly, you have people who are plant-based and this is more common with younger people in their teens and twenties. Being plant-based means either limiting or avoiding animal products, mostly for health reasons. They tend to be concerned about animal welfare and often have an interest in environmental issues.
VEGAN CRUELTY-FREE PRODUCTS
This may seem obvious, but make sure that you can offer vegan products for every service or treatment that you offer. Hair and beauty product companies have responded to the increasing demand for plant-based and cruelty-free products and there are now a variety of professional salon brands available. If you also stock products in your salon that are not suitable for vegans, then mark them as such and make sure your staff are genned up on them.
VEGAN SNACKS AND DRINKS
Maybe not such an issue in current Covid-19 restricted times when a bottle of water is suitable for all. But when we get back to offering teas and coffees, then you’ll need to think about milk substitutes such as oat or soya alternatives. Vegan snacks are no problem, with many traditional biscuit choices being “accidentally vegan”, meaning that they just happen not to contain animal products. Lotus biscuits, Digestives and Oreos are examples of this, but always check in case ingredients get changed. You can find a list of accidentally vegan products at www.peta.org.uk or a web search will bring up lots of options.
When you welcome vegans into your salon, you’ll need to consider their lifestyles and not just their dietary requirements. Veganism is a way of life and no vegan would be happy sitting on a leather sofa with cow hide cushions. So faux leather is a good option along with wood, but not wool, silk or anything with real fur trims. Also, take care to hide the lunching staff members with their Mc burgers and ham sarnies. Definitely not a relaxing vibe for a plant-based client!
SET THE SCENE AND TRAIN YOUR STAFF
Make sure that your potential vegan customers know that you are either a mainstream salon that caters for vegans, or a fully vegan salon – there is a world of difference between these two. So if you’re not a fully vegan salon, but welcoming to plant-based people then ensure that your staff are all aware of which product options are vegan-friendly and make a note on your client’s record if they’re vegan so that your staff don’t present them with a coffee with cow’s milk!
AVOID THE “SO WHY ARE YOU VEGAN?” LINE
When your vegan client is enjoying their shampoo or relaxing with a head massage, tread a bit carefully with chat relating to veganism until you know them really well. It’s great to tell your customer that you’re so happy to be able to source vegan products and that you love all the environmental benefits but remarks about what meat you do or don’t eat and the reasons why could lead to some rather heated discussions! Most vegans don’t want to preach; they’re the same as anyone else. They just want to escape the worries of the world and unwind in your salon, but a few just might have strong opinions.
So now you’re all set to go and ready yourself up as a vegan-friendly salon! By advertising your hair or beauty salon as such, you’re not only opening yourself up to more clients today, you’re future-proofing your business against the unstoppable rise of veganism.