Earl and Kelly, co-owners of Natural Fusion may seem like an unlikely duo for business partners. When they met, Kelly (a graduate from Hood College) was studying marine biology in California and Earl was working as a master hair stylist. The two hit it off, and later married. An idea struck them on an epic road trip across the country — with Earl’s cosmetology experience and Kelly’s interest in protecting the environment, the idea for Natural Fusion Hair Studio was born!
Natural Fusion Hair Studio is not your typical salon. It has been an environmentally friendly studio from day one — not only in the products they carry, but also in their day to day practices and company culture. They consistently work to provide superior service while embracing green practices. As a certified Green Circle Salon, Natural Fusion’s goal is to make their clients look great on the outside with fabulous styles and treatments, while feeling great on the inside, knowing they’ve played a role in protecting the environment.
How did you decide on your business name?
I think it took us four months to determine a name! We had sheets and sheets of possibilities. But, somehow “Earl’s Hack Shack” didn’t seem right… This business is a melding of our passions (hair and environmental stewardship), and the name Natural Fusion just seemed to fit. We call ourselves a studio because we focus solely on hair. We do hair, and we do it right!
What makes your business stand out?
We are unique in our vibe and our environmental practices. We are located in downtown Frederick in an 1890’s house. When you enter, it’s as if you’re walking into a home. We want our clients to feel comfortable — we are casual and friendly, while taking our work seriously. An added bonus is that our studio doesn’t smell like a hair salon. We don’t use harsh chemicals or ammoniated hair color, which can be toxic to your lungs.
Another way we stand out from the crowd is with our unique business structure. We recently made a culture shift that allows us to provide even better customer service and improves the working environment for our team. Our business consultant, Strategies, helped us implement team-base service. This philosophy is dramatically different from the typical salon and spa business model. We are no longer a commission salon, where our stylists can only earn more money if they physically work more. Instead, we all work together. When an individual’s schedule is tight, the team is there to help. Everyone is paid for every hour they work, so they can better plan their personal lives. As a team, we work together to reach goals to make the company succeed. We have a clear path for employee growth—both personally and professionally.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Earl is the master stylist—he has been doing hair for over 20 years! But, being a stylist and running a business require different skill sets. So, just like many entrepreneurs, we’ve been learning as we go. We also rely on help and insights from our community. There are so many helpful resources and people, we can always find someone up for brainstorming or to help guide us with business practices. We have the entrepreneur spirit, but every year we get smarter about how to run a business. Working with our business consultant, Strategies, has been the best investment we have made.
What is it like to work for you?
When we started our business, it wasn’t just for us. It was also to provide a safe and secure place for our employees. There is nothing better than doing what you love and being able to do it in a place you love. We communicate daily with our employees so they are aware of our current business goals and expectations. We have a collaborative spirit—some of our best ideas come from our team.
Can you describe your customers?
Our clients come from all walks of life, but most of them are professional adults with families. We serve everyone from teachers to farmers to executives and small business owners. Many of our clients have been with us for many years and we have seen them through their personal milestones (new jobs, marriages, children, empty nesting, etc). For example, we are proud to give many of our clients’ children their first haircut!
What is the best part about what you do? Most Challenging?
The best part of our business is making people smile! Our team is dedicated to providing excellent hair services, but they are also “daymakers” (a term I borrow from David Wagner’s book “Life as a Daymaker”). They are talented in helping you look your best and building confidence. Many of our clients view our stylists as trusted friends.
Our biggest challenge is continuing to work towards our number one goal: making sure our business is sustainable, both financially and environmentally. We are continually working to improve our services, but more importantly we are working towards a solid culture that is well defined to support all our team members.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and/or your business?
We work with the product line Kevin Murphy because their products use mostly natural ingredients and their color is ammonia-free. Both Natural Fusion Hair Studio and Kevin Murphy are members of Green Circle Salons, a program that allows us to recycle up to 95% of our salon waste by taking items that our local recycling program can’t handle.
Natural Fusion Hair Studio is located at 246 East Sixth Street in Frederick, Maryland. Call 301-662-1766 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 print issue of Sass Magazine.