Welcome to the S Event, a partnership between Paul Frasca, Ewelina Soroko and TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE – Australian hairdressing’s latest innovation for a sustainable future. To say the industry turned up is an understatement.

Get to know industry power couple Paul and Ewelina and you’ll learn quickly that there’s only one thing they love more than a good time, and that’s the idea of a beautifully green planet. Launching the Sustainable Salons Australia (SSA) program in 2014, together they’re on a journey to stimulate real change in the professional hairdressing industry, with a mission for all Australian salons and stylists to conduct themselves sustainably; ultimately recycling 100 per cent of the salon’s waste.

There’s nothing more powerful than education in the course of change, so it made perfect sense for the SSA to join forces with TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE in the manifestation of Australia’s first event solely designed to address sustainability in the hairdressing industry, The S Event.

TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE together with SSA welcomed close to 330 high rolling industry delegates to the dinner table late last week – some of the first to preview Sydney’s new International Convention Centre. True industry leaders, Paul, Ewelina and TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE presented a format where conference met three-course dinner – a hit of sustainability for the palette, mind and salon profit margin.

Hosted by Lil off the Top’s Jules Tognini and Wild Life’s Gary Latham and following a high energy performance by the crew who see household items a little differently, Junkyard Beats, first to the stage was the man himself, Paul Frasca – the guy who officially ‘makes recycling look sexy.’

Jules Tognini and Gary Latham

“While we launched two years ago, the SSA business plan began 8 years ago when Ewelina and I were driving around Australia in a Pop Top 1986 Toyota, catching barramundi and cruising around the outback,” the character began.

“Ewelina and I always knew we wanted to do something sustainably minded for the hairdressing industry, but we just didn’t know where to start, we needed this trip, and we arrived home with so many ideas, too many in fact. We didn’t know whether we wanted to create a service or a product, and it was at this point that Ewelina said, ‘we need to study more.’”

And so they did. They set about visiting 160 salons, studied and collected their waste.
“It was during this time that we discovered the problem, the yellow bin! The yellow bin is not designed for small businesses, it’s designed for residential use. Hairdressers were being told they couldn’t put hair, broken tools, razors, chemical waste and foil into this yellow bin, and this is truly where SSA was born,” said Paul.

Paul Frasca

So the pair set about creating the most comprehensive waste recovery service that not only rewards the salon for being part of the program, but ensures that 100 per cent of the waste that runs through the SSA program goes back into local communities and charitable programs.

Beyond this, SSA provides powerful marketing collateral that speaks to the consumer, educating them not only on sustainability but your salon’s efforts in the manifestation a cleaner environment.

“Our marketing messages are designed to blow your clients’ minds about you implementing such an ambitious recycling program.”

“Your client gets a haircut, it’s swept up and put into a hair bin, the hair is collected and taken back to our depot and now the hair of that customer is potentially cleaning up an oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef, now that’s a marketing story,” beamed Paul.

And what’s a hairdressing event without a show of creative ingenuity? Newly appointed SSA Creative Ambassador, Shaun McGrath of Stevie English Hair illustrated the artful side of garbage with a series of avant garde styles manifested from the likes of recycled metal, cans and loose hair – next-gen creations courtesy of the salon-specific SSA purple bin.

Shaun McGrath and the Stevie English Hair team

Education is undoubtedly our key to not only a more skillful but more sustainable future, and the S Event welcomed Head Teacher – Hairdressing and Barbering at TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE, Donna Colombini to the stage to talk about forthcoming curriculum and the notion that the organization is itself, on a journey of change.

“Including hosting network events such as this, we are seriously engaging with the hairdressing industry. Our commitment is to create innovative learning opportunities and future pathways for our students,” said Donna.

“We know you need apprentices, so we’re in schools and at career expos. We’re educating parents, schools and students to the incredible opportunities ahead should they choose a career in hairdressing.”

In support of this, TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE is broadening students minds with access to creative events such as Ssh! and for some the opportunity to attend Salon International. Then there is the 2017 launch of online training program, Creative Collaborators, connecting students with the the world’s finest in Mark Hayes, Peter Gray, Lucie Doughty and experts in makeup, film, television and fashion design.

And of course, the faculty’s dedication to producing sustainably minded hairdressers.

“TAFE NSW – Sydney TAFE Hairdressing Section is very committed to educating our future generations to think in every way about Sustainability – People, Planet and Profit – producing quality graduates, improving their business practices, as well as consideration of the environment and planet. The partnership with SSA was one way we could show the industry how serious we are about the future growth of our sector, of which we want to be a strong part,” said Faculty Director – Tourism Hospitality & Service Industries, TAFE NSW, Sydney TAFE.

The S Event team

The evening’s key note speaker was Jon Dee, Anchor of Smart Money on the Sky News Business Channel and Founder of DoSomething. With over two decades of dedication to the business of sustainability, Jon provided guests valuable concepts and ideas on how to be smart and save. These included, negotiate a better energy deal, switch off and save, switch to LED (McDonald’s has!), watch your thermostat, get insulated, consider natural refrigerants (decreases bill by 30 per cent), and change to solar and portable computers.

And in a final dose of feel good, S Event delegates heard from co-owner of Murphy Gozzard and overall legend, Brett McKinnon as he spoke of TAFE NSW, Sydney Tafe and SSA’s recent efforts to work with him in driving hairdresser volunteers to the charity Rough Threads – a community-driven not for profit organization that hosts free events for the disadvantaged in the quest to provide a greater sense of self. S Event guests together pledged a total of $11, 574.90 to the cause on that one night alone. Bravo.

And like all good hairdressing events, there was an after party waiting around the corner where guests toasted a solid evening of fun and insight – a welcome night of positivity and hope for the industry and the world at large.

For more information visit sustainablesalons.com.au or sydneytafe.edu.au