Okay, real talk, we still cannot get over winning KEVIN.MURPHY’s international “The Choices We Make” ICON Award last weekend OR attending their global hair show in Budapest. Having been bestowed this honor feels equal parts surreal and humbling, and on the other side, it is our commitment not to squander the opportunity, but to use it to spread our message and further our vision of creating a beauty industry that truly celebrates ALL people.

You see, this vision isn’t just near and dear to our hearts, it is the foundation on which our salons were built and continue to grow. It is the dream that pushes us to keep working, to keep asking, “What else? What’s next?” And perhaps most importantly, it is the message we so adamantly cheer on to all those willing to listen, because we genuinely believe we all hold the power to shift the tides of this industry we love so much. We know that if we each took a moment to notice that which is typically overlooked—to make the changes we might otherwise consider insignificant—wonderful things would happen, and we would all feel even more safe, empowered, and beautiful because of it.

In light of that belief, we wanted to take a few moments to share some of the people-focused initiatives we’ve started in the salon that led to our being named ICON of the year:

Learning Exchange
Ginger & Maude’s Learning Exchange program was born in response to the hair industry’s historical and continual exclusion of the Black population. It seeks to address the lack of education and equitable haircare services available for folks with extra curly and coily hair and is available for clients with 4A-4C textures. All appointments through this program—which can include consulting, detangling, cleansing, cutting, finishing, hair coloring, and product guidance—are completely free of charge as we realize we are asking for the client’s time, patience, and trust while our stylists work to implement and enhance their skill set with these hair types. Every stylist working in the salon is required to participate in this program.

Inclusive Haircut Pricing
All haircuts in the salon are based on time and time alone. To ensure this structure remains equitable, the price of any haircut caps at 30 minutes more than the standard haircut service, regardless of the time required to finish the haircut.
We do not have “Curly Cuts” because curly hair does not always equal needing more time and straight hair does not always equal needing less. Haircuts, like the hair they are meant for, are individual to each person, and hair type is only one part of that equation.
We do not gender our haircuts, because haircuts do NOT have a gender! Don’t get us wrong, we are SO here for a gender-affirming haircut (seriously, the joy they bring our souls is unmatched), but we are so OVER men’s vs women’s cuts and who is allowed to have what. Get the haircut that makes you feel good in your body. That’s our stance.

Appointment Options to Reduce Anxiety
Our Silent Service option was designed to alleviate the stress of trying to keep up a conversation while in the chair, and our Mirrorless Service option is perfect for folks who feel uncomfortable or anxious about having to sit in front of the mirror for extended periods of time while getting their hair done. Both can easily be selected while booking an appointment online to further encourage clients to request the appointment style that is most comfortable for them.

Empowering Youth Through Haircuts
Empowered children grow into empowered adults. Children who are not only accepted but embraced for who they are go on to celebrate the differences they see in others. These beliefs have always driven our children’s haircuts, but to ensure everyone was on the same page before the appointment, we created a guide for parents describing how we work to include and empower their child during the appointment, including our refusal to gender haircuts even for children, and our requirement for consent from the child before beginning. We’ve also added the ability for kids feeling nervous or anxious to set up a meet-and-greet with their stylist prior to their appointment to help them feel more comfortable.
Outside of the salon, we have been fortunate enough to partner with a local organization to provide free hair care services to LGBTQIA2S+ youth and young adults experiencing houselessness, allowing us even more opportunity to empower and celebrate people in our community, especially adolescents.

Honoring Identities
We love online booking, but one area we noticed it causing some occasional discomfort was with names. Our names matter—one of the kindest actions we can do to make someone else feel seen is learning their name and learning to say it correctly. Anyone who has grown up having their name butchered can tell you the dread that comes with having to introduce yourself to someone new, and the fact is, some folks don’t actually use the name associated with their account for various reasons.
When clients book an appointment, a survey is automatically included with their booking confirmation asking them various questions to ensure they have the best experience possible when they’re in the salon, such as their pronouns, how they feel about head massages, and if they prefer to enjoy their service quietly or with some conversation. By simply adding a question to that survey asking them 1) What they would like to be called, and/or 2) What the correct pronunciation of their name is, a lot of that stress has been alleviated on both sides—our clients know when they come in that they will be addressed correctly, and our staff feel prepared and confident in providing a welcoming experience from the very start when meeting a new client. 

Respecting Beliefs and Customs
Each staff member is entitled to six paid holidays a year. To honor each individual’s beliefs and customs, they can self-select which days those paid holidays are.

Promoting Diversity in Hiring
Recognizing that our salons exist in Portland, which is majority white, as well as the impact of both conscious and implicit biases—and that everyone has them—makes proactively supporting diversity in hiring even more crucial. Two ways we have done this are by providing scholarships to Black students in our community who would like to attend cosmetology school and by eliminating the collection of identifying information from our job application form to foster an inclusive and unbiased hiring process.

We hope, in reading these, that some have resonated with you or inspired you to create your own (even if you don’t work in a salon, you have an impact!) and that you’ll share those ideas with us too. We can’t wait to hear them.

Let’s create something beautiful together. 💖