At The Tease, we’re always looking to highlight cool salons, barbershops, and spaces. This month, we’re spotlighting BOSS HAIR GROUP, Chicago’s leading eco-luxe salon.
Located in the ultra-stylish River North neighborhood of Chicago stands one of the city’s coolest and, dare we say, chicest sustainable salons. Called BOSS HAIR GROUP, the buzzy hair hotspot is the brainchild of award-winning colorist John Blue, aka Chicago’s resident “brunette whisperer.”
“Being in the industry for a long as I have, you definitely notice what works and what doesn’t, and what drives and inspires the people around you. I wanted to take all of the positive elements that I’ve experienced throughout my career and apply it to my own space,” Blue said, speaking of his decision to open his own salon. “BOSS has a simple but strong presence. I love to acknowledge that each stylist/colorist is a BOSS in their own right at what they do, and I want our clients to have a sense of ownership in their look when they leave. At the end, it’s all about feeling like a BOSS.”
The salon certainly lives up to its bold name through and through with its vibrant interior and all-around feel good vibes. With its geometric lines, color-blocked walls, and David Bowie-esque bolts of gold littered throughout the space, BOSS effortlessly establishes itself as a salon sanctuary for those of the creative mindset. According to Blue, much of the inspiration for the salon was drawn from ‘80s glam rock, Studio 54 fashion, and ‘90s supermodels.
“I’ve always been inspired by fashion and music from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s and wanted the salon to embrace that vibe,” he explained. “I knew I wanted elements of Studio 54 mixed with Andy Warhol’s “Factory” with a dash of that iconic ‘90s Supermodel chic feel.”
To bring his vision to life, Blue enlisted the help of Nick Bowers of the Chicago-based design team, BlocHaus. The talented designer has designed some of the cities most popular and stylish hangouts including the Berkshire Room, Apogee, and Acme Hotel. Despite Bowers’s focus on hospitality, Blue says he knew that there was no one better for the job. “When I first stepped into one of his cocktail lounges in Lincoln Square, I knew I had to work with whoever created such a dynamic and well-thought out space. Eye candy everywhere!” he said.
To help dream up BOSS’s signature color palette of blue, coral, black and gold, Blue gave Bowers and his team a bunch of iconic celebrity photographs from the ‘70s and ‘80s to use as reference.
“Two of the photos really resonated with us, and the design was born from there,” he shared. “We had an image of David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane era. He was dressed in a powder blue velvet suit and had this orangey-coral colored hair. We took the inspiration from that as well as this really cool gold and black glossy photograph of Grace Jones. We mashed everything up and BOSS’ image was born!”
As cool and colorful as BOSS’ aesthetic is, it definitely strays from the stereotypical image of a “green” salon. But, according to Blue, this design move was intentional.
“When you think of most “green” salons, you envision that bohemian and earthy aesthetic: all white, bamboo, and earth-toned woods,” he said. “I wanted to break from that cliche minimal approach to sustainability. You can still be environmentally conscious, have fun, and make a bold and artistic statement.”
As a certified Green Circle Salon, BOSS strives to incorporate sustainable elements and practices wherever possible. Being an avid animal lover, this was a top priority for Blue when he first set out to launch the salon in 2018.
“I knew first and foremost that I wanted to be a 100% cruelty-free salon. Too many major conglomerate beauty brands still practice archaic methods of testing their products on animals, and I wanted to support smaller companies that had respect for the environment — especially our four-legged friends,” said Blue. “I spent many years researching different brands and their philosophies and have found that you don’t have to sacrifice quality or performance for ethics. That just catapulted me into seeing the amount of waste that beauty companies produce, as well as the toxic ingredients found in so many popular brands. I wanted to be a part of the solution, and not contribute to the problem.”
To combat excess waste, BOSS recycles 95 percent of their salon waste, which includes foil, color tubes, and plastic packaging. The salon has also addressed water waste, by installing an ECOHEADS shower head at each of their three shampoo stations and as a result, has helped save 6,695 gallons of water per month.
BOSS also favors using products from vegan, cruelty-free, and clean brands such as OWAY, R + Co BLEU, and Emera. Clients are offered a 10 percent discount on hair products when they return their empty bottle so that it can be properly recycled.
For Blue, it’s not just the salon’s unique decor or its environmental impact that makes BOSS so special —it’s also the BOSS team. Every single stylist, colorist, and barber in the salon brings over a decade of experience, ensuring that clients get the complete five-star BOSS experience each time they visit.
“We’re high-end without being pretentious. We’re fun while remaining professional and highly knowledgeable without making you feel uncomfortable,” he said. “ We love what we do and you’re gonna’ feel it!”