There’s been quite the debate around Australia’s obsession with perfection when it comes to our fruit and veggies recently, with ABC’s The War on Waste program blowing the lid on how much produce is dumped due to cosmetic standards. Well, you might be interested to know that there’s also a salon out there challenging our perfect standards when it comes to ‘beautiful’ hair… and the result is more impacting than just ‘undone’ for the sake of fashion.

Shibui, located in Melbourne’s South Yarra, is the hairdressing home of 38 staff. Spanning two impressive levels on Toorak Road, the salon has been in business for 35 years thanks to owners Rob Hastie and Tracey Colebrook who insist on one, simple ethos.

“Shibui is about an understanding and appreciation of the true characteristic of a client’s hair,” says Tracey. “We embrace the imperfections and variables that make us all unique.”

The word shibui is Japanese, relating to an aesthetic of simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty. It’s craftsmanship that is beautiful by nature, without elaboration. Is it any wonder then, that the brand is well-known and incredibly respected for its freehand approach to hair-cutting and colouring, always paying attention to natural texture and tone.

A foundation like this is sure to come with parallels to the sustainability message, and the Shibui business certainly does.

“There is so much about our brand that takes it lead from nature,” begins Tracey.

“We preach to our clients daily to embrace what nature gave us, the beauty in what is uniquely ours. Talking to them about sustainability feels very natural.”

“We have always embraced the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message – Shibui has taught young hairdressers, since 1983, the basic principles of recycling. We have composted Shibui food waste for the bosses’ garden, supplied out-of-date magazines to design schools and kindergartens, and generally promoted ‘waste not want not’ principles. Plus, our night lighting was turned off in 2012.”

Oh, and one more thing… boldly going against all traditional luxury salon practices, Shibui rewards its clients with a product gift if they choose to leave the salon with wet hair.

If that’s not commitment to ‘shibui’, then we’re convinced it doesn’t exist. The very principle behind this policy suggests Shibui really does practice what its name preaches, and actively works to break through conventional barriers – both cosmetic and environmental.

“We have always cared,” enthuses Tracey, “but Sustainable Salons has recently shown us how much more we can do.

“Without a doubt, our biggest sustainability achievement has been getting our landfill bin down to just half per week.”

Tracey describes the Shibui staff as “a diverse group of people with a relaxed attitude and a common taste level, all committed and motivated to make a difference”, with the day-to-day operations intuitively managed by Tanner Hastie and Simon Farrelly.

“Tanner is our green warrior,” nods Tracey. “She lobbied to become a Sustainable Salon and enforces our recycling habits daily. She has now introduced the H&M Garment Collection program to Shibui and forwards any new initiatives she sees or hears about. It is a passion for her!”

While many of us know the challenge it can be to implement even the simplest change, the Shibui team surely understands more than most the complexities of persuading an audience that there’s another way to do something… even if it comes with beautiful and beneficial results!

“99% of our clients have congratulated us and keenly read the many programs Sustainable Salons promote – the hair boom is of particular interest to most!” says Tracey. “We have found the older the client the more indifferent; they care but struggle to believe much will change. But, the Millennials are uninformed and keen to know more – they have faith they can make a difference!

“We have just added a Sustainable Salons tab to our website, so regardless, it’s here to stay for this and the next generation.”


Sustainable Salons Australia provides the most comprehensive waste free systems to the professional hairdressing industry. We collect and recycle 95% of a salon’s waste and reward the salon for their recycling efforts!
Contact us here if you’d like to become a member of Sustainable Salons Australia.