Ahimsalon: A hidden gem off the beaten path for people to escape the stress of everyday life.
Her creativity and rebellious nature drove her to experiment with her own hair as a way of self-expression. “Throughout middle school and high school, I had been very interested in cutting and coloring hair and definitely engaged in my fair share of self-experimentation,” says Nicole.
With two loving and hard-working parents who taught her that hard work pays off, Nicole set really high goals for herself, and continues to work towards them to this day. With a cosmetology degree from Empire Beauty School and a Bachelor of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, she has worked simultaneously in both fields for twelve years. “I am an architect by day and hairstylist by night…and weekend,” says Nicole. She believes communication is vital in both fields, something she has mastered working both professions.
The name “Ahimsalon,” is as original as it is meaningful. Ahimsa is Sanskrit for “non-violence”, and in Buddhism, the concept of Ahimsa extends not only to our fellow man, but to all living beings. With a powerful name like that, it comes to no surprise, that Ahimsalon products are vegan and certified cruelty-free. This means that they do not contain any animal products or byproducts and that they are not tested on animals. “Any product that requires the torture of animals, harming our planet, and adversely affecting our health is not beautiful. I don’t care how nice it makes you look – the costs are simply too high.” says Nicole. “I use only Organic Way (OWAY), hair color, hair care, and styling products. Their products are organic and sustainably-sourced from biodynamic farms in Bologna, Italy. Each product utilizes specific plants that mimic the chemicals typically used in the industry. In fact, they do not contain sulfates, parabens, petroleum, PEG-PPG, synthetic fragrances or artificial colorants, all of which are commonly found in your typical hair products. Ultimately, this means that they are better for the planet, better for your health, as well as, the condition of your hair! What’s not to love?!” Simply Organic Beauty, in Palm Harbor, FL, is the exclusive distributer for OWAY in the United States. It’s purely a coincidence that the company is located in the next town over from Ahimsalon!
With Ahimsalon (Ahimsa + Salon), Nicole’s goal is to create a space for every single person to feel safe and comfortable. There are only two hairstyling stations and, currently, Nicole is the only stylist. She does intend on hiring another stylist next year, however.
Nicole specializes in Haircuts, Color, Keratin Treatments, Scalp Treatments, Dreadlocks and I-Tip Hair Extensions, but isn’t stopping there. Currently enrolled in a PhiBrows microblading course, she hopes to begin offering microblading at Ahimsalon sometime in mid-2018. Microblading is a type of semi-permanent makeup where tiny hair strokes are tattooed onto the eyebrows to help define shape and fill-in missing parts of the eyebrow.
When she’s not busy working and saving animals, Nicole enjoys running, yoga, reading, watching movies and spending time with her “fur babies” as she calls them. “I only adopt senior and/or special-needs animals and they are truly my life,” says Nicole. In fact, one of her fur babies, Petri, a little 13-year-old yorkie-mix, is responsible for Nicole opening Ahimsalon.
Nicole found Petri on Petfinder before moving to Florida four years ago. He had been seized from an animal hoarder and found himself at the local shelter on the list to be euthanized due to his age and health problems. That did not stop Nicole from adopting him, however. “To say this dog has changed my life would be an understatement. He has inspired and motivated me over the past four years to make some serious changes, both personally and professionally,” says Nicole. “It is because of Petri, that I decided my life mission, my ‘why’, was to save and protect as many animals as possible in as many different ways as possible.” First, Nicole went vegan. Next, she got a job as an architect at Bacon Group, Inc. Architecture, a firm in Clearwater that specializes in the design of animal shelters, all over the country, and sometimes even outside of the country.
Most recently, Petri has inspired Nicole to open her own hair salon —Ahimsalon. “I consider Ahimsalon just as much an animal rights group as I do a hair salon! I wanted to use this business as a way to educate clients about vegan hair products and services as well as living a vegan lifestyle in general,” says Nicole. “I also knew that I wanted to donate a portion of profits to animal rights and welfare groups. As an animal shelter architect, I see animal shelters and rescues struggle to generate the money required to help the animals they serve. The more money Ahimsalon makes, the more that will be donated to help animals and people.”
Nicole enjoys the personal autonomy of owning her own salon and loves working with people. “I love connecting with people on a deeper level. I am happy to be the person they vent to after a long day or confide in when something is wrong,” says Nicole. “And, there is NOTHING like making someone feel beautiful and more confident. It is only when we are most confident that we can go out into the world, face our fears, and chase our dreams.”
Running a salon can also be challenging. “Owning a business, in general, is stressful! As an owner, you are responsible for everything. Often times, this means having to be extremely creative and resourceful,” says Nicole, who currently sells plasma to help offset overhead costs. “I believe every challenge, however, offers another opportunity to further my mission of helping both human and non-human animals. By selling plasma, for example, I get to pay my salon’s rent AND help save someone’s life! Now THAT’S a win-win!”
Ahimsalon has teamed up with Suncoast Animal League, of Palm Harbor, FL, and is offering an ongoing special to help raise money for the animals they rescue. This is how it works:
· Mention Suncoast Animal League when you call Ahimsalon to make your first appointment.
· You will get 10% off of all first visit services that you receive.
· 50% of your total bill will be donated to Suncoast Animal League.
*Offer excludes retail products.
Nicole suggests, “Being beautiful is not just about having a pretty face and nice hair. Health is beautiful. Compassion is beautiful. Respect is beautiful. Courage is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. The list goes on. At Ahimsalon, our hope is to achieve beauty in all its forms, not just the superficial ones.”
Ahimsalon is located at 96 Terrace Road, Tarpon Springs, FL, 34689 (Behind Total Fitness Gym). They are available by appointment Monday - Friday from 7:00pm to 9:00pm and Saturday - Sunday from 8:00am to 8:00pm. Please contact Nicole directly at (727) 452-7475.