DeRiah Boutique Salon in Mequon, Wisconsin, believes in good hair that’s good for the earth.

Owners: Shelley Szyspzak and Rachel Kernan
Opened: 1996
Space: 2,200 square feet, 9 styling stations
Connect: | @deriahsalon

DeRiah is a collective of beauty artists and innovators offering services, education and curated goods.

After 15 years of success in Cebarburg, Wisconsin, founder Shelley Szypszak partnered with stylist Rachel Kernan to bring DeRiah to Mequon, now home to some of the most talented staff in the Greater Milwaukee area.

“Our brand welcomes visionaries,” they say in their messaging. As part of that vision, DeRiah owners are proud of their history with R+Co, taking pride in being the first salon in WIsconsin to offer their artists and guests the innovative family of brands, partnering at R+Co’s launch in 2014 and chartering with R+Co BLEU in July 2020.

“We always want to be on the cutting edge of great products, and R+Co keeps us there,” Szypszak says.

Sustainability Journey

DeRiah’s owners were early to recognize what guests were asking about—allergies, preservatives, ingredients—and forecast where the industry was headed.

“We have been proactive in moving toward vegan product options and what we call the 5-Frees, paraben-free, gluten-free, petroleum-free, mineral oil-free and sulfate-free products as one guiding principle of our product choices and approach to sustainable beauty and care,” explains Szypszak. DeRiah emphasizes the “5-Frees” as part of their marketing and messaging, including the salon’s website and product section.

“Also, when we moved into this space 10 years ago, we built sustainability into our plan and pioneered the use of Minardi-branded, energy-efficient LED lighting,” she says. “That change really stood out at the time and lighting continues to make a difference,” both in savings and how we are perceived.

The overall motivation in every design update has been to provide the best space to do the best work with the best products.

“We were in an in old building before. In this space we ensured lots of sunlight, picture windows and the LED lighting at the station helps stylists and guests see and establish the right hair color.”

The up-front investment pays healthy dividends, Szypszak says. “I’ve only changed five bulbs throughout the entire salon in the last 10 years—and none at the stations. The LED bulbs don’t throw heat, so we don’t have to power up the air conditioning as much to balance. We are saving money, being energy efficient and reducing our waste by keeping bulbs out of the landfill.”

These and other sustainability practices are so ingrained into DeRiah’s history and culture—like doing their own local recycling program to manage hair color waste, foils, hair clippings and more—that DeRiah doesn’t so much market their green beauty approach as they all live it.

“When you come in, you see and feel the difference; you experience it in our salon.”

Of course the sustainable, recyclable and recycled packaging R+Co features goes hand in hand with DeRiah’s positioning, and the salon takes full advantage of all the support R+Co offers.

“We even did a box garden in the salon and planted the cards from the R+Co BLEU products that have the seeds embedded. We planted them in beautiful, reused bottles and canisters. As the wildflowers bloomed, it helped create more awareness and prompted conversations with our guests about sustainability and the things we do.”

Bottom Line = Support

Ultimately, Szypszak says her salon’s demographics call for the level of product quality, performance and sustainability leadership that R+Co and R+Co BLEU offers.

“Everyone is looking for a luxury line,” she says. “My guests want the best products, moisturizing treatments, high-performance and cutting-edge ingredients, and R+Co delivers.”

But what really moved the loyalty needle for her and helped DeRiah sustain their business strength was the level of support received during the COVID-19 crisis.

“In more than 25 years, I’ve never experienced a company take such good care of owners the way R+Co did,” she says. “I received personal phone calls from CEOs and writers for the company, people who took time to help us with our Instagram presence, teaching us 3-hour, personal classes.”

“I’d never been taught by a company beyond how to learn about, use and sell the product. They took time to teach me new things about my business. We learned how to be more effective and engaging with programs we already had, and were encouraged and shown how to think out of our box and try new ones.

“We started a weekly Zoom show—'On the Couch with Shelley and Rachel.’ We laughed all the way through, but couldn’t believe the amount of new people we engaged and the extra things they would do, the birthday gifts they would purchase and we’d send out. Those were the things that sustained us, financially and emotionally.”

“I can’t say enough about what R+Co did for us then, or about the support and knowledge they continue to provide,” says says. “I let other companies go. It’s a privilege to work alongside and aligned with R+Co.