Rolanda Anderson, owner of Salon True, attends to a client on February 27th, 2020. PHOTO: CATALINA BERGUNO ASTORGA

Upon arrival at Salon True on 17th Avenue, the yellow light coming from the pendant ceiling lights give the area a golden glow. 

Most of the styling chairs face the window wall, giving clients a clear view of the street below. The air is filled with the light scent of essential oils.Their organic products are on full display atop the wall shelves that hang neatly at the entrance of the salon. 

Different sounds can be heard around the salon—the white noise of a blow dryer or the running water from a sink head. Most walls are coated in white paint with plants adorning them. 

There are many salons in Calgary. However, Salon True is the first that is exclusively organic. 

Rolanda Anderson, Salon True’s owner, was inspired to start her business around 2018. Several recurring health issues led her to seek the advice of a  naturopath to find a solution to her migraines and hormonal issues.  Working as a hairdresser had exposed her to several harmful chemicals and fumes, including ammonia. 

“She told me that I needed to eliminate as many chemicals in my life as possible. She didn’t realize I was a hairstylist. That’s pretty much my entire life, it’s doing hair.”

“When I used to colour people’s hair, if I got any lightening (bleach) on my hand, I would break out in hives right away. That doesn’t happen anymore.” 

Rolanda Anderson

Anderson eventually came up with the idea to look for an organic approach to the hair industry. 

“It was almost like one of those scenarios where it was meant to be. Everything just worked out so well,” she recalls. 

When Anderson opened Salon True she knew she not only wanted to use different products than other salons, but mentor her team differently than how she was taught. 

“I want them to build a career where they had a work-life balance, that they didn’t have to feel like they had to work themselves to the bone to build a successful career.”

Kat Ollis, a hairstylist at Salon True, was initially intrigued by the organic concept of the salon when she applied for the job. 

Ollis says she enjoys going to work everyday. 

“I would say the salon is a lot more relaxed than other salons. I really like that. You know, if you need help, someone’s there to help you.”

Salon True delivers a clean luxury experience for their clients, says Anderson.

“It’s a very calm and relaxing area where it’s kind of their own little oasis where they can come in. You don’t have the heavy lingering chemical smell in the air. We don’t have this overwhelming and noisy and over-stimulating environment.”

Hilary McMeekin is a longtime client of Anderson. She goes to Salon True once a month to get her hair coloured.

“From the moment I walk in the door, they encourage me to relax. The service is lovely. I’m able to laugh. You know, have fun while I’m there. I feel pampered from the massage I get when they wash my hair.”

Salon True’s backwash units with their products on display. PHOTO: CATALINA BERGUNO ASTORGA.

She enjoys her sessions, saying the salon offers snacks and drinks. 

“It’s just a lovely way to decompress while your hair is getting coloured.”

She says she noticed the difference after switching to organic. 

“Honestly, my hair really changed after I started using their products and for the better. My hair feels healthier, smoother, it’s shinier. I love the way my hair feels.”

Anderson has made some observations since switching to organic, many of them through her clients. 

“When I used to use regular color, or the non-organic color on my clients right away would be like, ‘I need someone to scratch my head.’ ‘My head is so itchy.’ You know, their color would stain their hairline.”

While using organic products, clients don’t complain about any scalp irritation. She says no one reacts to the products they use. Even Anderson herself has seen improvements with her own health.

“When I used to colour people’s hair, if I got any lightening (bleach) on my hand, I would break out in hives right away. That doesn’t happen anymore.” 

She has also seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of migraines she has; going from one or two a week to just one or two a month. 

Anderson says that because their salon is organic, there has been some presumptions about their business. 

“I think the biggest misconception with people when they hear the word ‘organic’ in the hair industry is that they feel like it’s not going to work. It’s not going to get the results that they want, that the color is not going to work, the styling products aren’t going to clean their hair. And that’s not true.”

Salon True is currently focusing on building their team and spreading awareness about their business. 

“We’ve been open for [just over a year] now, so I think for the most part I think it’s moving that way, but there’s always room for improvement and growth.”

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