Kelley Swing has been on a journey. Along the way, there were twists and turns and unexpected revelations. Often, she walked blind with no idea what was around the next corner. But now that she’s arrived, she has a message for the rest of us and a mission that gets her out of bed each morning.
“I guess my journey began when I accepted a job managing a friend’s salon with zero salon experience,” Kelley said. This kind of leap of faith would become a recurring theme for her. “I’d always worked in sales and marketing and had taken on my first management position at 16. I figured how different could salon work be.”
Kelley compares what happened next to putting on a shoe that fits. “I hadn’t been to beauty school and had no real training, but I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is where I belong,’” she said. “I’m a bit of a knowledge junkie, so I started learning everything I could about the salon industry.” After only four months though, the economy tanked, and the salon wanted to cut Kelley back to part-time. That just wasn’t an option for a single mom. “I thought, ‘Well, that was short-lived. What am I going to do now?’“
She accepted a position managing an even larger salon. “It was the hardest thing I’d ever done,” she said. “I went home crying every night, but I stuck it out and turned the salon around in six months. I took every class I could—color, cutting, everything.” Kelley was quickly promoted to district manager and running six locations. That’s when her health troubles began.
“I had chronic sinus infections,” Kelley said. “I was sick all the time, had sinus surgery, was diagnosed with autoimmune conditions, including Lupus. I was losing my hair and just feeling horrible.” Little did Kelley know the chemicals she was absorbing, while doing the job she loved, were making her sick. “I started eating healthier,” she said. “The doctors kept trying to give me medicine, but I looked for natural remedies instead. Meanwhile, I was inhaling ammonias and dyes all day plus coloring my own hair every two weeks, just pumping chemicals into my body.”
Kelley left the salon industry briefly to take a job in the radiology department of a hospital where she saw women in their 20s with irregular mammograms. “I’d have to call them back for an ultrasound then back for a biopsy and saw how scared they were,” she said. “I have two daughters and kept thinking, ‘What’s going on?’” It was around that time Kelley noticed a line of organic hair color. Reading the label that delineated what was absent in the organic color made her begin questioning what was present in the others. A lightbulb went off.
Then there was a day when all the pieces fell into place. “I was searching for a salon that would color my hair organically,” she said. “I stopped into a salon I used to manage, and the stylists there secretly begged me to open a salon where they could work. Then, my daughter called to say the owners of the salon she managed wanted to sell. I couldn’t ignore the signs. I told my daughter, ‘Brandy, I think we’re going to open an organic salon.’”
Head Case Hair Studio was born. A full-service salon pioneering sustainable beauty in DFW, they use and sell only ammonia-free products, recycle 90 to 95 percent of their waste, and advocate against animal testing and child labor. Stylists quickly flocked to Kelley’s door and she hand-selected a team of professionals who together offer ammonia-free color, precision cuts, blowouts and specialty styles, keratin treatments, makeup application, healthy hair extensions, facial waxing, and full-body waxing.
Kelley was so impressed with Natulique salon products that she’s now the pioneer salon, distributor, and Natulique Academy for the state of Texas. Her daughter, Brandy Thorpe, serves as director of education and salon manager as they train other salon owners and managers how to launch their own sustainable salon. Kelley was recently tested for Lupus and all tests came back negative. She has no doubt it’s thanks to eliminating chemicals from her life.
Did you know?
Manufacturers of salon hair care products are not required to list all ingredients—even hazardous chemicals— in their products sold for professional salon use.
Many salon products contain ammonia, formaldehyde, polyethylene glycols, paraphenelynediamine, hormone disruptors, and carcinogens, which are not listed on their label.
1200 Keller Parkway, Suite 400
Keller, Texas 76248