Good’s editor Carolyn Enting chats to Guy Roberts, co-founder of leading Auckland hair studio Vada, on the latest hair trends, being a conscious consumer and his business’ environmentally-friendly practices.
Vada is dedicated to being an environmentally conscious company. Why have you taken that stance?
The environmental stance is a no brainer, the consumer, the planet itself demands businesses to act responsibly. Our industry, although up against it, have put tremendous pressure on the large companies who supply us to follow suit and provide us alternatives that are kinder to us and kinder to the environment.
When Cath (business partner and wife) and I started Vada in 2000 we both felt that chemical exposure was of huge concern. Cath developed a colour allergy early on in her career along with dermatitis and subsequent food allergies and chemical intolerances. Both our sons also have severe allergies. It became clear to us that chemical exposure is responsible for a lot of health issues including genetically inherited ones. The hairdressing industry had few regulations when we began our training and this meant that our clients and those of us working submerged in these products regularly, were being exposed to potential health risks. It was clear when we opened our doors that for us, we would remove as many nasties from our own environment as possible for the safety of our clients, our family and our stylists.
Cath has researched a lot and there are studies which show that her food allergies to certain foods, such as orange oil and mango, are cross-related to her allergy to para dye. We feel that the industry needs to take a holistic approach – like many of us are in life now and consider the internal and external factors which affect our health and happiness.
What steps have you taken to ensure your business footprint has minimal impact?
Recycling is important to our company, and we have a waste collection for chemical waste who render it inert for us. It costs more but it’s just a Vada policy. There are surprising paradoxes in researching the best ways to do things, for example, we are currently trialling using disposable towels instead of washing cotton towels. This leaves a smaller carbon footprint and uses less chemicals, energy and waste than washing cotton towels.
Another initiative is our business cards, designed by Cath and won a recent Gold Design Award. Great design and quality means they are reusable and people rarely dispose of them. Text confirmations means you can go card free too.
Hair products known for having lots of chemicals. How do you get around that?
We align with companies that share our ethos and dropped many who could not provide paraben and sulphate free shampoo.
Davines is a brand that ticks many boxes – a luxurious collection of beautiful naturally derived high performance products, a delight for all the senses.
Vada exclusively use Goldwell colour, The Goldwell Nectaya range is an ammonia free formula that delivers argan oil while it works for deeply conditioned colours. Up to 91 per cent of the ingredients are natural in Nectaya and it can still cover 100 per cent grey. Goldwell have worked hard to deliver rich vibrant results in their range, without the need to add the usual chemical culprits.
You are the Goldwell Ambassador for New Zealand …
Education is a passion for me and always has been. I arrived in New Zealand and took over the key role at a top hairdressing academy in Auckland before opening Vada. It’s always been a huge part of Vada culture – our name Vada is derived from old Latin and Sanskrit – to look and learn. We feel passionately about creativity and about sharing. This year  sees me travelling the globe with Goldwell who have set up meeting points for education exchange, where we can inspire and be inspired – sharing knowledge and being able to give this back to the industry here in New Zealand.
What are the biggest trends in hair right now that you love?
We call the trend ‘disruptive’. It’s the idea that disruption creates change and innovation. Disrupt the colour, disrupt the outline, disrupt the texture. Neutral backgrounds meet vibrant accents. Add a strong sharp section to an otherwise fluid organic style.
You’re also a DJ and music is a big part of the Vada experience …
I grew up in London and was heavily into the music scene there for many years before moving to Auckland 20 years ago. It was all very underground then and I quickly got myself involved DJing warehouse gigs and then clubs … I’ve always had a very eclectic taste and I would consider, an educated palate when it comes to music which I source from all genres. I can be a little controlling some of my team might say as I’m often tweaking the playlist to suit the clientele and the vibe at the time. We love a fusion of arts, culture, music and we’ve had live DJs, acoustic guitar and vocalists playing at Vada on a Saturday. We have a lot of [music] artists who are styled by Vada … we give each other a lot of creative energy, their music and art inspires us in our work.