To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
State Street Barbers opened its first shop more than a decade ago. The owner Mike Malik, had a goal to create a place where modern men's hairstyles met time-honored barbershop traditions, like straight-razor shaves and breaking into song with your three best friends. Customers soon clamored for spots in the shop's throne-like leather chairs, so much so that State Street Barbers now boasts four Chicago locations.
To find out more about the shop, we chatted with one of the barbers, Rami "The Razor" Natour. Cutting hair just might be hereditary?his great-grandfather was a barber, too.
On State Street Barbers' signature haircuts
Naturally, haircuts are the shop's bread and butter. But the ones at State Street nab you more than just a trim. ?Every haircut includes a shampoo, conditioner, hot lather neck shave, a mini neck massage, and a hot towel over the face," Rami says.
On what keeps regulars coming back
?They love the ambiance. It?s an old, classic feel. We have a lot of vintage stuff.? For example: Rami?s great-grandfather?s antique razors and strops, which currently live in the shop?s display case. As for the decor, ?It?s all oak wood, all around. The stations are wood, the floors are hardwood.?
On a not-so-secret State Street Barbers perk
?We offer complimentary neck shaves to our clients,? Rami says. ?So they can come in anytime for a cleanup, which just includes the sideburns, around the ears, and a neck shave, for free."
The stylists at XEX Hair Gallery love being in downtown Chicago. ?It?s such a blend of different kinds of people down here,? says David Perry, co-founder and lead stylist at the Aveda concept salon. For such a diverse clientele, stylists are trained in-house to master haircare for all ethnicities. They also travel around the country to attend ongoing-education classes. ?We always try to stay up on what?s current and what?s in fashion,? Perry says.
There?s a notable visual difference between XEX Hair Gallery and most other salons?pieces of Venetian Murano glass artwork by Raphael Darra provide bold pops of pigment along the salon?s neutral-toned walls. Besides giving the salon a funky, artsy feel, the pieces serve as a metaphor. ?Hair is art,? Perry says. ?Not only does [the art] bring a lot of color to the salon, it also reflects the individuality of what people are.? If the art on the walls recalls a hip coffee shop or David Geffen's attic, it?s not an unfounded connection. Perry calls his salon a ?discharging chamber . . . where people come in and they feel like it?s home. People know your name, you feel welcome, it?s a cool place.?
As for the coffee, the salon serves wine and beer, but someone will run out and get a cup of joe for clients if that?s what they request. Says Perry, ?You name it, we?ll get it for them.?
Before opening Aroma Workshop with wife Liz Muckley in 1993, Tedd Neenan pursued his love of nostril charming by earning an aromatherapy certification under Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt at the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy. Neenan's scent expertise informs the store's selection of more than 100 perfumes and essential oils, which customers can mix to create a signature scent during a process that Where magazine calls "quick, painless—and lots of fun." After customers name their new trademark fragrances and enter them into the store's scent-o-dex for future recall, they can transmit the scents into perfume oils, colognes, or dozens of skin and bodycare products, thereby eliminating the need to stitch pine cones to their blazers to smell fresh. Neenan's neat shop—its wraparound glass shelves are stacked with vials and bottles––has also attracted the keen noses of Lucky, Self, and Chicago magazine reporters, who note its extensive selection and expert staff, which includes a professional perfumer.
After being gifted with a free car on The Oprah Winfrey Show, makeup artist Kiley Russell sold her prize and used the profits to launch Big Girl Cosmetics, a line of mineral-based makeup and body products never tested on animals or underage mannequins. Years later, the company opened Big Girl Makeup Bar & Spa in Hyde Park, where friendly staffers regularly pamper visitors with facials, waxing, and massages infused with Big Girl products. Nail artisans augment manicures and pedicures with a chocolate scrub or honey-almond lotion before slicking talons with DBP- and formaldehyde-free polish. Feminine décor, such as bright pink walls and silhouettes of sassy gals, reflects the energetic, cheerful service that accompanies even the most relaxing of massages and facials. Eager to go the extra mile, the staff tops off every facial with a shoulder massage and a complimentary forged report card with straight As.
A commitment to natural, plant-derived beauty unifies the 10 Aveda Lifestyle SalonSpa outposts of Asha SalonSpa. Organic products help enrich hair in each location's salon, where stylists specialize in precision haircuts while eschewing harsh chemicals in favor of plant-based Aveda color, pure organic makeup, and whispered requests to smooth down. Spa guests are greeted with a cup of tea and a cozy, signature herbal neck pillow amid the waiting room's earth-toned decor, where they await the start of their facials, massages, body treatments, or nail treatments. As with the salon, all of these services employ Aveda's signature plant- and flower-based products. In addition to their regular services, Asha locations periodically host special events and workshops on topics such as stress management.