Local salon wins accolades and energy upgrades in PSE contest

— Created December 30, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Melanie Hammons

Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” reflects upon the fleeting beauty of spring’s first flowerings.  It opens with the wistful observation, “Nature’s first green is gold.”

Those poetic lines just took on a slightly different shade of meaning for a local Coupeville business.  Seaside Spa and Salon, a Green Circle Salon, recently learned it is in line to receive a $45,000 energy efficiency upgrade from a Puget Sound Energy contest.   Judges chose four winners from over 1,200 statewide entries, said PSE representative Leslie Myers.

PSE selected the winning entries for the Small Business Energy Makeover Contest based upon energy savings potential as well as geographic diversity and how they have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

 “This marks the first time we’ve offered such a contest,” said Myers.  “We wanted to do something specifically to help businesses that have been so hard-hit with lockdowns.”

Each PSE award earmarks approximately $30,000 toward energy upgrades.  The remaining $15,000 is allotted for cosmetic-type enhancements, said Myers.  “The types of enhancements chosen vary depending on the nature of the business as well as individual needs. It’s something that we work on together to achieve the best outcome for them,” she said.

It seems fitting the term “makeover,” frequently applied to the spa/salon experience, was also the descriptor of choice for the Small Business Energy Makeover Contest name.  In late November, Seaside Spa and Salon owner Aaron Wiley learned they were one of the four winners, and for Wiley, the award’s timing could not have been better, coming on the heels of an economic downturn that accompanied government-mandated restrictions or outright closures of businesses.

“We are so excited about this – it’s an opportunity to enhance our operation, save money on energy bills, all while reducing our carbon footprint at the same time,” she said.

Wiley, who opened her business in 2006, views the plans to increase their efficiency as right in line with what they have been passionate about all along:  Helping people and the planet to be as beautiful as they can be.

It may come as a surprise to learn the beauty industry produces a lot of waste, says Wiley.  The good news is that so much of it can be devoted to secondary uses, which is what the Green Circle Salon organization promotes.  Her salon joined the group a year ago.

Wiley said it was her employees, all of whom she has managed to retain so far, who first approached her about joining Green Circle Salons.

 “My team is a huge part of what makes us successful,” she said.  “I have always valued their ideas, so when they bring them to me, I make sure to listen.  The chance to recycle up to 95 percent of our waste, including color chemicals and foil wraps, was just too valuable to pass up.”

Pandemic concerns have mandated the use of PPE for everyone and the very nature of the beauty industry induces them to be especially aware of that.  But used PPE has to go somewhere, too.  Wiley said the masks, gloves and hospital-grade disinfectant used each day are recycled.

“Even hair clippings don’t just get thrown out.  A couple of our waste bins are themselves made of hair fiber plastic,” Wiley said.

It turns out there’s another use for those hair clippings which happens to be very relevant to Puget Sound and other maritime settings.  The left-over hair clippings also find new life as oil booms to help mitigate spills.

Nearly everyone makes up a wish list for Christmas and Wiley admits that thanks to the contest award, her business now has one as well.

“We are situated in a 160-year-old building (one of Coupeville’s oldest), on Front Street,” Wiley said.  “Built in 1864; it’s loaded with charm, we love it, but we could really use more efficient heating in winter and cooling in summer.  It’s our hope to upgrade to an energy efficient hot water heater, water-saving plumbing fixtures, and perhaps even LED-style lighting.”

Cosmetic enhancements, another financial feature granted by the award, would ideally include remodeled flooring that is consistently uniform in appearance.  Currently, six different types are in use throughout the building, said Wiley.

Wiley also believes that with some strategic reconfiguring of hair stations, they could go beyond the recommended six-foot distance requirements currently in place to give a greater level of assurance to their clientele.

In early 2021, the entire makeover will be captured and featured on KING 5’s Evening Magazine show.  The news crew will film the transformation, showcase the upgrades and share energy-saving tips everyone can benefit from.

And in the spirit of the holiday season, even those small businesses not chosen as winners in the contest this time won’t go away empty-handed, according to PSE’s Myers.

“The good news is that all the businesses that were nominated will be offered free energy assessments,” she said.  “So there is potential to help even more businesses save money on their monthly energy bills.”

Wiley wants Seaside Spa and Salon to bring beauty to the world around them and to their clients as well.  Both goals are equally important to them.

“When you are already doing good things, and I believe that as a Green Circle Salon we are, good things are going to come back to you.  Winning this has been very affirming to us that we are doing something right at Seaside Spa,” she said.