3808 N Williams
The number-one promise at Akemi Salon is a "cruelty-free haircut." (And they're not talking about nicking your ears with the scissors.) Owner and hairstylist Suzzette Fasching is deeply committed to using only hair care and beauty products that aren't animal-based and do not test on little critters like rabbits, cats, and mice. Throughout the '90s, animal-rights groups pressured many of the beauty product manufacturers to back away from testing their products on animals—experiments like pumping a cat's stomach full of perm solution or squirting shampoo in a bunny's eyes to see if the product is baby proof. Some companies stopped, but there is no serious legislation to prevent animal testing, and many of the larger manufacturers continue to do so. Tucked behind the new Yoga Shala on N Williams, Suzzette opened her store a few months ago. The salon even gives discounts to people who work with animals—and to vegans and vegetarians.
Doesn't it seem a bit unfair to give discounts to vegans?
No, those are my people.
But otherwise you treat non-vegetarians equally, right?
I try not to be super preachy, but it is super important. I don't go off on people sitting in my chair, but tell one person that Herbal Essences uses animal testing and you can make a big difference. They tell one person and so on.
What company is the worst offender?
Procter & Gamble is one of the hugest. L'Oréal is bad, too. They say they don't do animal testing, but they hire out laboratories to do it, and are really vague. They also own everything—even, ironically, the Body Shop.
When did you start considering animals and their feelings?
I grew up next to my grandparents' farm and became friends with all of the cows, and I thought that I didn't want to be responsible for hurting them.
And this is why you became a vegetarian?
No, I had a roommate when I was 21 who was vegetarian and I thought she was really cool. Then I became vegan two years ago because I had to walk the talk.
What's the most disgusting head of hair that you've worked on?
I worked in a beauty school in Texas and they brought in prisoners every few weeks. Oh, scabby, gross heads. The worst, however, was combing out someone's dreadlocks. It smelled so bad that another woman working in the salon threw up.