The Brains Behind Bob
A few short minutes into a conversation with Bob directors Amanda Berry and Charlotte Archer, and I am starting to understand that the creation of their natural, sustainable hair salon was no half-assed attempt at finding a niche in the hair industry, or trying to stay relevant and on trend in an increasingly health and sustainably conscious world.
Quite the opposite, the pair created Bob to ensure that the way they lived at home wasn’t contradicted by their work. And in a surprisingly unaccountable industry, both Amanda and Charlotte have learnt firsthand the level of waste and toxicity that lives within most hair salons.
There’s nothing patronising or alien in the way they talk about chemicals and
waste. Rather, their warm and engaging tone tells methat they genuinely want to educate on topics such as why I should avoid products with parabens, and how I can reduce my footprint at home.
And this desire for open, honest conversation on their ingredients and practices is what makes their salon a special, unique place. More than just that; it’s an extension of Amanda and Charlotte’s lifestyle, and Bob is a space to share that within.
Here, Amanda and Charlotte share the journey that led to Bob, and some of their findings along the way.
On that ‘aha’ moment…
AMANDA: In hindsight, it happened early in my career. I remember begging my employer to make the shift to a brand that was the closest thing to natural and cruelty-free at the time. Not only did I notice a difference in the health of my client’s hair when working with these products, but also in my own health and wellbeing.
CHARLOTTE: After spending years working in hair salons, I took a few years off and realised how toxic the salon environment can be, and that it completely contradicted my lifestyle. When we moved to Melbourne, I therefore chose to look for work in a more natural hair salon. After spending a year there, I started to feel that it still lacked in some of the core fundamentals, especially sustainability, which is something I am extremely passionate about. It was there that I met my now business partner who shared similar values, so together we created Bob.
On the birth of Bob…
CHARLOTTE: I have always led a pretty natural lifestyle, predominantly focussing on natural whole foods and keeping things in my household as toxic free as possible. When I met Amanda, I learnt that she shared similar views to me, but slightly more geared towards cruelty free products and our environmental footprint. From these shared passions, Bob was born out of the need to provide clients with a natural and sustainable salon that is honest and accountable.
On Bob’s zero waste practices…
AMANDA: Bob recycles everything. The hair clippings are made into booms which are used in the Great Barrier Reef to soak up oil spills, we use only recycled foil which in turn gets recycled again, we compost any food scraps and we educate anyone who'll listen on simple ways to be more sustainable.
On the nasty chemicals found in most products…
AMANDA: I think people are certainly aware of chemicals found in most products, but are not aware of the dangers or why they're supposed to be avoiding them. For example, parabens are preservatives found in most hair care products, cosmetics, deodorants, and skin care. They mimic oestrogen, which interferes with hormone function, and may play a role in the development of breast cancer. What’s more is, parabens react to UVA rays, which leads to increased skin ageing and DNA damage.
CHARLOTTE: PPD and PTD are in all commercial hair colours, and are the number one allergen that can cause major allergic reactions. Even if you are currently not allergic to these two chemicals, overtime the toxicity levels build up in your body, which can result in sudden outbreaks and sensitivities.
On the reason health and sustainability tends to get overlooked in the hair industry…
AMANDA: It's really interesting speaking to different people about their lifestyles, and their efforts towards living a more natural or sustainable one. The common theme is that they have made the switch to less toxic cleaning products, eating organic produce, and generally living cleaner lifestyles. Incredibly, hair and beauty is often overlooked. I think the main reason is a lack of knowledge of what these ingredients do to our system, because once aware, they are very fast to make the switch.
CHARLOTTE: The hair industry has taken an awfully long time to catch up with other industries, where broader conversations on natural products and sustainable practices have started to become commonplace. In order to see a change on a larger scale, bigger companies need to be held accountable. At the end of the day, it’s all about supply and demand. If people aren’t pushing, nothing will change, and this is something that drives us to have these conversations with friends, family, and clients.
On their favourite natural products…
CHARLOTTE: The Sans Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face is one of my favourites. It cuts down on clutter and waste, and I literally use it for everything. I’m all about using minimal products and striping back on the amount of products in my home.
AMANDA: It sounds silly as it’s not hair related, but one product I always recommend is Erica Brooke’s deodorant crème, because I believe all women need to be made aware of the crap in traditional antiperspirants.
On health and sustainability at home…
CHARLOTTE: We have recently cut down on the amount of meat we are eating. I think we consume so much these days, and there’s a lot of research to show that this will become unsustainable moving forward. In turn, this has made me extremely aware of overall consumerism. We have completely decluttered our household, to only the things we absolutely love and can't live without. When buying anything new, I now look at where it’s made, the quality of it, and whether I absolutely love it and need it.