Scott Base colourist Amanda Buckingham uses her new
biodegradable hair product, made from rock paper, on client
Brittney Townsend's hair. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
An environmentally conscious Dunedin hairdresser is on
the verge of signing an international contract for a hair
product she dreamed up while making school lunches.
Director and colourist at Caversham hair salon Scott Base
Amanda Buckingham came up with the idea for a biodegradable
alternative to aluminium foils used to dye hair, after
looking for ways to make her and her husband's salon more
''I looked in the rubbish bins and I was like, `Man we use
some tin foil','' Ms Buckingham said.
After failing to find any alternatives on the market, she
gained the inspiration while making school lunches for her
''I looked in the drawer and saw baking paper and I thought:
`I wonder what that would be like?'.''
After two years of product development, with the help of
Otago Polytechnic's innovation workSpace, she settled on a
product called ''One Systema'', made from a biodegradable
paper product made from rock, with the word ''One'' coming
from the Maori word for soil and sand, not the number one.
She is now on the verge of signing a potentially
''multimillion-dollar'' contract to license the product to
either one or multiple international distribution companies.
She attributed her success to a determination to see things
through and the ''amazing'' amount of expertise on hand in
Dunedin, and the rest of New Zealand, to help develop the
product and pitch it to the world.
''What it has proved is that New Zealand [and Dunedin] have
the resources to be successful. We sometimes think we are not
big enough to take on a global contract, but the work we
produce here is amazing.''
The journey to get One Systema to the market had taken her to
Europe where she pitched the product last year.
She was now ''100%'' certain it would reach salons -
hopefully by this spring - with negotiations well under way.
It was now just a case of the ''big boys nutting it out'',
''One of the things I was told when the Italians were testing
it was that their product tester is one of the most
[thorough] people you could ever meet ... but he had nothing
negative to say.''
Developing the product, which had been used in her salon for
16 months, was not about ''getting rich'', but instead about
reducing the carbon footprint of the hairdressing industry.
''The coolest thing about it is it's non-tree-felled, there
are no chemicals used in its production and I can't find
anything like it.''
Research showed making the product used only about 3% of the
energy used making foils.
Once a contract was signed, Ms Buckingham planned to continue
working in her salon and had three other ideas for products
she was keen to develop.
Otago Polytechnic innovation workSpace manager Eva Gluyas
said the product had huge potential.
''You cannot imagine how much aluminium foil gets saturated
in hydrogen peroxide wrapped up in a ball ... and put into
the earth and how poisonous [that is].
New Zealand hairdressers on average went through 1000m of
aluminium foil a month.
''It's crazy. There is this huge environmental problem around
hairdressing which no-one is talking about,'' she said.