NEWTON — Colleen Guber-Decker isn't afraid to start over.
Following her passion, the Andover Township resident completely changed careers by embracing an all organic approach to beauty with the opening of her 100 percent organic salon in Newton, Salon FiG.
"FiG" stands for faith in God, and Guber-Decker is certain that's been a guiding force behind the moves she has made in her life.
Entering the corporate worldThe daughter of a highly successful businessman, she loved doing hair as a kid.
"My father was a contractor, hard working laborer and wanted to have a better life for me which is why he told me, 'There's no money in hair,'" said Guber-Decker. "He wanted me to go to college. He was a hard worker who loved his kids."
So Guber-Decker abandoned her brush, scissors and love of doing hair and took the schooling necessary to forge into the corporate world, building a career as a successful marketing director for a large real estate organization.
Twelve years ago, her father learned he had cancer and struggled with it for two years before he died.
"I was in denial and it was devastating," Guber-Decker said.
She was traveling with her job and had two young kids, but with her father's passing, she decided to follow her passion, and quit her power job to send herself to cosmetology school, working three part-time jobs to do so.
Following her passionShe graduated with her license and started working as a stylist immediately.
"I worked here, there and everywhere at different salons," Guber-Decker said.
She'd learned the profession and loved it but what she didn't like was the drama that seemed to be present in every salon. She started envisioning a salon free of the stigmas of gossip and interpersonal theatrics.
Then one day, she decided to take her second leap of faith and make her dream a reality.
A Christian woman and music enthusiast, it was at a summer Christian concert where the name dawned on her.
"I had the idea to use 'FiG' for Faith in God," she said.
Then it was a matter of choosing FiG Salon or Salon FiG. She opened the doors to her salon in December 2009 as a one-woman show. Immediately, clients were drawn to her attention to detail and non-traditional, much-more-homey atmosphere and attitude.
Going greenAs Guber-Decker worked with the traditional products she'd learned about at beauty school, she became increasingly concerned about the fumes they emitted and the damage they could do to hair. This prompted her to start researching alternatives and spawned a whole new world for her.
As she studied organic methods and products, Guber-Decker became more and more intrigued. And as she researched traditional products and their ammonia, formaldehyde, parabin and dilate contents, she became more and more alarmed. The icing on the cake was realizing how many people working in the beauty industry developed lung cancer, breast cancer and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Now with friend and fellow stylist Christina Polak, of Fredon, on board as her manager, to celebrate Salon FiG's year anniversary, Guber-Decker took leap of faith number three and threw out all of her products to start anew as an all-organic salon.
"The processes are different and nothing you learn in beauty school," she said. "When you think about it, they make a lot of sense."
For instance, prior to coloring hair, a "stretch test" is done on the client and then either a protein or moisture treatment is administered prior to coloring to prevent damage and optimize the result. The colors Salon FiG use contain no ammonia and are coconut based formulas, and Salon FiG became and remains the only 100 percent organic salon in Sussex County.
Word spread and clientele grew. So did Guber-Decker's staff which now, in addition to herself and Polak, includes assistant manager, Rebecca Lawrence of Andover, Jessica Snook of Hamburg, Tina Marie Georgy of Vernon, Hannah Paternoster of Newton and front-end coordinator Ashlee Barreto of Sandyston.
In effort to maximize space, Guber-Decker recently expanded the salon's functional space in December adding a processing room and new wood stations reminiscent of a comfortable home library.
"It's important to have a welcoming atmosphere," she said.
Additionally, clients are referred to as "guests" and treated as such as with the complimentary beverage menu offered to clients including coffee, tea, hot chocolate "You can be green and gorgeous without sacrificing style," Guber-Decker said.
As an example, she cited one of her first clients after the salon went organic.
"She came to me with pretty stressed out hair," she said. "Now, her hair is in much better shape than it was then. Our clients discover that natural products perform better and are a much superior option in every regard."
Salon FiG's services renew, restore and revive even the most stressed of hair and in addition to hair, features all natural Jane Iredale makeup, natural nail polish manicures and pedicures, and a host of organic products including Surface, Shear Miracle and Original Sprout, for children.
Natural ingredients are safer for the hair, they shampoo out easily, create no build-up, are normally pH balanced and allow the scalp and hair to breathe. Another Salon FiG specialty is a deep conditioning treatment to get hair back on track from years of chemical use.
For more informationSalon FiG is located at 75 Sparta Avenue, and parking is available in front of the salon and directly across the street. Hours are Monday noon to 8 p.m., Tuesday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To schedule an appointment and/or for further information, call 973-300-HAIR (4247) or visit www.salonfig.com.