We love getting to know our oob fans... here we take 5 minutes with Libby Whaley from Tauranga, New Zealand.
Libby runs her own salon Epsilon Hair. She shares her story about overcoming compromised health with a more natural and organic diet, and how that's shaped her passion.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
"We'll I've been hairdressing for 16 years, and owned my own salons for the last 8.
"I did my training with Servilles in Auckland, and worked my way up from junior to senior stylist then manager, then bought the Ponsonby branch in 2010. I sold it late 2016 to move to the Mount with my husband and open my dream salon, Epsilon Hair, in early 2017. But about 7 years ago I started getting sick: we were trying to conceive and it wasn’t happening..... I had daily stomach pain and my skin was constantly irritated with dermatitis and eczema.
"I started to research what was in hair products and discovered that whenever I swapped out a product - either in salon or at home - that was sulphate free, my skin would clear up. To try and sort out my hormones I started researching parabens and was horrified to find out that most of the beauty products I was using - makeup, skincare, moisturiser, body wash, not to mention all the shampoo conditioner and styling products I touched in salon each day - were loaded with parabens (a known endocrine disruptor) which was elevating my oestrogen level and keeping me ill. I swapped out as much as I could straight away and continued to look for new products that were high end but didn’t have the nasties.
"After several years of trying to make myself healthier through lifestyle choices, I finally got a diagnosis of endometriosis. I hadn’t eaten red meat in 20 years by this point and I immediately gave up chicken, and started eating mainly gluten free or finding low gluten products that didn’t trigger my endo symptoms. These definitely made a big difference in my day to day health - my stomach wasn’t as sore and I didn’t have the extreme exhaustion, but our fertility still didn’t improve.
"Making the huge decision to sell my salon and our home in Grey Lynn and move to Mt Maunganui (where I am originally from), my husband and I continued to make major lifestyle changes. In July 2017 I went totally vegan and my husband started to eat mainly plant based too. With daily walks on the beach with our doggy, yoga and a bit of meditation thrown in, even though I was starting a new business my stress level was a fraction of what it had been for the previous 7 years and we started to feel like we were living again, not just surviving.
"In December 2018, with a 6 month old business, we found out that all our lifestyle changes had finally paid off and we were pregnant! We 100% credit this to overhauling daily routine, stress and food as well as an endometriosis fertility specialist that I found in Tauranga."
What is your passion? What makes you tick?
"I decided to open Epsilon Hair so that I could combine my knowledge of paraben and sulphate free beauty products with high end hair to share with as many others as possible. Every time we have a new client in salon that has come to us because they are going through a health journey and are trying to rid their life of toxins I do a happy dance inside.
"It brings me so much joy to open up about my health journey with other women in my chair - being a hairdresser you have a lot of one on one time with people to talk and it never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to share with me - often things they would struggle to share with their friends or family as it can be private or embarrassing.
"My team members and I will often be heard swapping healthy recipes, book recommendations, and contact details for natural therapy practitioners with our clients as we all combine what we know has worked in our own lives. And of course having someone leave my salon with a huge smile on their face because they love their hair is what I love most - we need to celebrate our own beauty and feel good about ourselves!!"
Why is organic food important to you?
"Our cells are made from what goes into our body. If we are constantly consuming chemicals, synthetic foods made in factories, and food sprayed and treated with goodness knows what, how can we expect our bodies to function? It is literally impossible to avoid all ‘bad stuff’ so we need to take a stand where we can and fuel our bodies with the cleanest, most nutritious foods we can find. Our livers and kidneys are overworked each day anyway so anything we can do to reduce their load is going to help.
"On the other side of the equation - organic is super important for our Earth. We are poisoning our soil and robbing her of the nutrients that should be there - organic farming with crop rotation, complementary planting and composting is a major way to help heal our planet. It doesn’t take much effort to have a compost bin at home and put all your food scraps in it, yet it will make a huge difference letting that decompose into soil instead of releasing nitrogen into the air which happens when food waste is put into landfill. We want our future generations to have soil to grow their own food in and thankfully more and more people and companies are making this a daily practice."
How do you maintain balance in life?
"Walking on the beach is my go - to : the sea air is so calming and grounding your bare feet in the sand - ‘earthing’ - always makes me feel better. I also love yoga and wish that I could meditate more but I struggle to focus a bit!!"
What do you love about oob organic products?
"Great taste, always available and accessible. I always have at least one bag of blueberries in the freezer for baking, adding to smoothies, or putting on my breakfast or dessert. Having the berries frozen means there is no waste and I don’t have to worry about seasonal availability - I can also stock up on them so I never run out!!" - Libby
Shout out to Epsilon Hair
Epsilon Hair is not only sulphate and paraben free, we are also cruelty free and have a huge salon focus on sustainability. We compost everything possible from hair to coffee grinds and toilet rolls, all our packaging that can be recycled or reused is, and we refill our cleaning products from the local bulk company Bin Inn to reduce packaging.
We love to support local business and get our fairtrade organic coffee from Excelso, a Tauranga company, and two days a week we have vegan sweet treats from Real Rad Food in salon for clients to enjoy.