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Why Willow and Ash?

What a year! 

I find myself becoming reflective after what I have found to be a year of epic highs and devastating lows. Then I had a thought…I wonder how many others have actually flipped their lives on its head as a result of this year?

Although there are still many people hurting, whether it be financially or from missing loved ones they cant get to (we are in this boat also), I find myself feeling a new sense of freedom, peace and perhaps an overall feeling of connectedness- is that a word? It is now.

So, ultimately I thought, what better blog topic to be my first than this? A year that could have broken us has instead strengthened us all, in some way.

At the beginning of this year I was a soon to be mother of two. Due in February, just coming off a crazy Christmas and New Year period, planning for the arrival of my second child, trying to train up a staff member to take my place in my salon in town. I had no idea when I would return to my salon but knew, at some point (and quickly), I had to. A thought that did not float my boat.

You see, over the 5 years that I owned this space, I changed. What was important to me had changed. The way I was going about my life had changed. But my mind hadnt caught up with these facts yet.

Then, with a 5 week old baby at home, the world flipped upside down and, as we all know, not in a good way. I remember sitting there on the couch TRYING to learn the elusive art of breastfeeding for the second time round (definitely thought second time round would be easier), raw with emotions already from all the crazy mummy hormones. Then we turned on the TV to watch yet another Scott Morrison announcement. But this time it got personal. This time…as of midnight tomorrow night, all beauty salons will be forced closed”. Well, tears flowed. I dont think I have ever felt so vulnerable in my life or been placed in a position where, within an instant, the future of my family was uncertain.  With a toddler sound asleep in bed, I held my beautiful husbands hand in one hand and my new borns in the other and wept.

Then it was like a tsunami, wasnt it? One announcement after the next. More closures, dont do this, dont go here. Lock down. What a spin out, essentially being told you cant leave your home….wild. I reeled (and for some time). I Felt all the emotions: fear, unease, even numbness and helplessness…

But then. Something wonderful started to happen. I started to slow down. I think we all slowed down…

I spent my days neck deep in feeding, entertaining my toddler and never-ending nappy changes. But also, I immersed myself in nature, more than I have in years. Baking bread – like half the world seemed to do also (Yay! This was too cool to see happening). Buying our food directly from farmers again. Walking through the trees. Sitting and watching the birds. Looking up at the empty (free from planes) sky. Laughing at my little ones. Having warm cups of tea as the sunshine kissed my cheeks. Taking a breath.

I welcome it. I bathed in it. After years of being on the mouse wheel it just felt like we were all forced to slow down, didnt it?

Sure, like many others, it was awful at times. Feelings of fear would often arise. Not knowing what the future may hold, still not knowing. Scrabbling to sell through all the product on my shelves to try and bank some dollars to pay the bills. But for some reason, even with all the negativity and uncertainty, it felt good…? Sounds crazy doesnt it? But I just couldnt deny the feeling of relief that there was NOTHING I could do about any of it and that we simply had to put one foot in front of the other, every day, until we were moving forward again. But in the interim, we just got to go back to basics and be with our loved ones.

A few months in we had become very acclimatised to our new way of living. Eat, sleep, play, go for a walk, cook some wholesome food, repeat. I watched as there were beautiful acts of kindness everywhere I looked. I looked up at the sky and revelled in not seeing plane after plane. I started to smile incessantly every time I heard another story about our earth showing signs of healing. Then without me realising, I started to realise that my life needed to change.

I also started to realise…I cant really hide away from this for much longer. I have decisions to make.

I couldnt for the life of me see the way forward. So I sat in it. What do I want? What do I want?

To be close to my family. To do something I am passionate about. Too, in my small way, have a positive impact on this world. To somehow honour this profound moment in time.

So I started to jot things down. Ideas all over the place. Until a tangible idea started to form.

I started to realise that there was one very large fact that was overruling it all. I LOVE Beauty, and I LOVE to make people feel wonderful. And now more than ever people want to feel good again.

But this industry just wasnt aligning with my beliefs. Beauty IS the Beast.

And in that, Willow and Ash emerged. An eco beauty salon. A salon that prioritises low waste beauty treatments. A salon that thinks about low tox alternatives for absolutely every product that is used, from the skin care range to the brow products, pre and post waxing care etc.

It is a work in progress and something that I am working on every day. Some of the changes I have made so far include using bamboo beauty tools for all treatments. Bamboo cotton buds, bamboo mascara spoolies, bamboo lip wands. The tissues I use are recycled paper. No more alcohol swabs that are individually wrapped and discarded – simply a spray bottle with pure alcohol from a local distillery. My cotton rounds are biodegradable. I have sourced biodegradable gloves for use in treatments. No more cartridge waxing (single use cartridge per client -eek! No!). No more wax strips. Certified organic skin care packaged in glass with a heavy focus on Australian ingredients.

But I needed to go further than this. What about all the products I was using, and retailing?

I saw “earth friendly” online stores. I saw clean beauty” online stores. But I had a big issue with most of the sites I visited. Yes – they were focusing on clean beauty which essentially meant trying to focus on more natural” ingredients, but for me, how can it be truly clean if it isnt sustainably packaged? This industry is contributing billions of tonnes of single use waste to land fill every year and it has to stop.

Lets choose sustainable beauty. Let's choose products that use cardboard instead of gloss coated white cardboard, let's transition to compostable beauty tools – bamboo cotton buds, bamboo/wheat straw toothbrushes, kojnac cleansing sponges, instead of  the plastic versions that will take over 1000 years to break down. Lets support organic skin care brands that have a soul; that prioritise sustainable packaging, choose not to put their products  in a single use box just for shelf appeal, that plant a tree for your purchases, that offer return and refill programs, that support our organic farmers (which in turn supports farming without chemicals and directly impacts our planet), that leave ALLL the endocrine disrupting ingredients out of our products so we can all live a healthier, low tox existence. THIS is clean beauty.

So here it is. Our mission.

To change the beauty industry one mind at a time. We need to start thinking about our earth again. This does NOT mean we cant feel good, perhaps even better than we ever have before. This does not mean we cant have our beauty treatments. This does not mean we cant wear make up or smell nice. We just need to adjust our thinking. We have essentially been brain washed by big companies with big marketing budgets to think that, if it is organic” then it doesnt work. Or if it is earth friendly then it must be for hippies (a whole other topic, what even is a hippie? New blog post? Yes!). Lets get rid of this crazy stigma that if it is plant based or herb based or mineral based that it doesnt work. They do!!!

Willow and Ash promises to find the best Australian made, cruelty free, eco friendly, sustainably packaged beauty products that are out there. To support our local economy and businesses that have a smaller carbon footprint by not sourcing products from across the world but instead source them from our very own soil (literally). As we grow we will add more beautiful products that we find, our offering will be ever evolving. We want to create education resources, impart our knowledge. Our intention is not to create guilt or fear, but instead a community. One that is working together to make better choices and a better future for us all.   

Clean beauty is so important. For our planet, for our health, for our wellbeing. Lets journey together.

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