Her business is all-organic and all about good juju

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Julie Ebner , owner of Juju Salon & Spa in Queen Village, uses plant-based products with no chemicals. Before starting in the business, she was a paralegal who worked in salons.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Julie Ebner , owner of Juju Salon & Spa in Queen Village, uses plant-based products with no chemicals. Before starting in the business, she was a paralegal who worked in salons.
Posted: May 10, 2013

J ULIE EBNER, 46, of 11th Street near Green in North Philly, owns Juju Salon & Spa in Queen Village. The Temple grad started a small, organic hair salon in 2005. Four years later, she launched a website offering all-natural, plant-based products. Ebner, a divorcee, has two daughters, ages 9 and 11.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the business?

A: I was a paralegal and also worked in salons. I felt like the environment in most salons was toxic. The interiors were boring and not what a stylist wanted. I felt like all the chemicals in the products was a lawsuit waiting to happen. I had an epiphany my salon would be all-organic.

Q: What's with the name Juju?

A: That's my nickname, and it's also a charm believed by West Africans to have supernatural powers, and it can be good or bad.

Q: I guess for you it's good juju.

A: I think so.

Q: What's the biggest challenge to growing the business?

A: Training employees is hard. You must find the best people and educate them in organic lifestyle.

Q: Please explain that lifestyle.

A: The products I use and sell are plant-based, no chemicals and certainly no synthetic chemicals. I believe what's more important is what's not in our products.

Q: Can you elaborate?

A: Yes. Greenwashing is where somebody makes a product, labels it organic and it may contain an organic plant but also has a synthetic fragrance or preservative, so it's still toxic.

Q: How did you find money to start the business?

A: I put everything on credit cards. Keeping the business afloat is more difficult in the city because of taxes.

Q: It's a complaint I hear a lot.

A: Last year, $1 million walked through my door, and the city taxes you on that. My accountant says if I moved to Bala Cynwyd I'd save $25,000 a year in taxes.

Q: Well, you got a city-tax credit for being a sustainable business. What makes you sustainable?

A: Besides all-organic products, we're totally wind-powered and recycle all trash. We have mostly secondhand furniture, and spa sheets, blankets and robes are 100 percent organic cotton.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: Mostly women, maybe 15 percent men. A lot are moms, maybe my age or younger. Lots of professional women, for sure, but we also get lots of students.

Q: How many employees?

A: About 25. I probably have only two that are over 34 hours per week. The rest are part time.

Q: What part of the business produces the most revenue?

A: The salon, by far.

Q: You're a working mom, and Mother's Day is coming up.

A: My kids see me at work all the time and help out. I give them a little bit of money and they're here after school most days. I'm raising two girls and they know what I do and how hard I work.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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