Grooming a Business for a Socially Good Cause

By Amanda Lewan on April 2nd, 2013 / Comments

What started as a curious walk around Midtown, ended with a plan for a sustainable business in Detroit.

Sebastian Jackson, owner of The Social Club Grooming Company, had been running his barber shop on Wayne State’s Campus for a while but was unsure of its focus. When one day Sebastian took a stroll around Midtown, he found the Green Garage and was amazed with the building.

He didn’t know that he had stumbled upon a co-working space dedicated to helping others build a sustainable business. Tom Brennan, Co-founder of the Green Garage, was excited about Sebastian’s shop and helped him build his “triple bottom line,” a plan for building a sustainable business with a social purpose and sound finances.

Sebastian had wanted to include recycling more, sharing with us that over 60 million pounds of hair get thrown away each year rather than recycled. Tom helped Sebastian learn to build his business in a way that gives to the community, gives to the environment, and builds a financially successful model.

“There’s a way to make money while helping the community and environment versus taking from it,” Sebastian explains as he shares with us his journey to designing a socially good business.

Look Good. Feel Good. Do Good.

photo of barber cutting hair at the social grooming club detroit

That’s the barber shop’s motto. Located on Wayne State’s Campus, Sebastian saw his business in a unique position to help others look good, feel good, and learn to do good in Detroit.

Look good is an easy goal for the barber shop to reach, but what about the other two?

“Feel good is our community well being team where we want to go out in the community and help people feel good about where they live,” said Sebastian. “When people feel good about their neighborhood they want to take care of it.”

Sebastian’s barber shop offers grooming services such as haircuts, manicures, and tanning, but recycles as much plastic and natural hair as they can. Dyed hair isn’t good for the environment, but natural hair can be stored for a given amount of time (anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the climate) and then used as fertilizer. Getting a haircut at The Social Club Grooming means customers make the choice to recycle their hair. Sebastian wants the customers to learn to “feel good” by seeing their impact on the local environment.

“We want you to have the option to be responsible for everything you do,” said Sebastian. “In the future we want to have a more direct community impact, growing trees and food and building a sustainable community. We may hire high school students to have a summer job planting trees and vegetables.”

Getting a haircut is just the start for a socially responsible customer that enters Sebastian’s club. He’s currently working on a platform that visual displays how the club will make an impact on the local environment.

“We want to bring awareness. Let’s say we plant 1,000 trees in the Osborne neighborhood this summer,” said Sebastian. “We want to assign our customers their own tree.”

Sebastian also has plans for expanding the space. He wants to make it a social club for others to network, share their business plans, and connect with the local community. Sebastian told us that while sitting in his barber shop people have found co-founders for their businesses, and he wants to continue encourage local networking.

Why Businesses Should Include Social and Environmental Good

So why should other business think about their social and environmental impact? Sebastian explained the need for thinking your business all the way through, and expressing this clearly to your customer. Thinking through his business has helped him see new opportunities for growing and serving the community.

“I think sustainability is great because it makes you think things all the way through with your business. It makes you really aware. You understand what you want to do, how you want to do it, and why,” he said.

“Once you try it out you can always adopt new practices and improve. Other small businesses could learn to be aware of their community and environmental impact. If you think things through there’s usually a better way to save money while helping the community and environment.”

Currently Sebastian is looking for any IT professionals to join his team. If you know anyone who’s interested let us know and we’ll connect you!

Follow along Sebastian’s journey on Facebook, and subscribe to Michipreneur for more stories on sustainable businesses and social entrepreneurship in Michigan.

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About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.