Mama Earth had a big win recently. Fortescue Future Industries, lead by Australian billionaire Dr Andrew Forrest, announced it will build the world’s largest green energy hydrogen manufacturing facility in Queensland. This plant alone is set to double the globe’s capacity to produce green energy hydrogen power by manufacturing and exporting infrastructure and equipment such as wind turbines.

It’s an incredible step forward in the renewable energy space, and even more special that it’s happening on Aussie soil. But – I know what you’re thinking – it doesn’t seem all that connected to the hairdressing industry, so why am I rabbiting on about it? Well, the news triggered a lightbulb moment for me: how cool is the unexpected success model?

It just so happens that the Aussie hairdressing industry is also pioneering green energy hydrogen. You may have heard whispers earlier this year about our partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries; together with the Australian Hairdressing Council, Sustainable Salons collaborated to bring to life H2Cuts, a mobile haircutting salon powered by 100% renewable Hydrogen.

Here’s where the unexpected success model comes in. H2Cuts was created so that the NSW DPI could tour regional communities and talk to them about exploring opportunities to lift agriculture’s energy productivity and reduce its carbon footprint. Yep, you read right… agriculture. Through my weird and wonderful web of networks, I heard these guys were going to activate this unit as a mobile sheep-shearing shed to showcase the power (pun intended) of green energy hydrogen.

That definitely seems like the obvious choice, but would it have been the most engaging? Jury’s still out on that. Instead, I saw an opportunity for our industry to be part of a future initiative, so I suggested we offer haircuts to the communities of regional NSW powered by green energy hydrogen – and hairdressers, of course. The wheels started turning for the DPI folk as I explained that hairdressers have leverage – when a client is in the chair, they’re a captive audience; there’s no better place to get someone’s undivided attention.

And so we set about building H2Cuts ready for it to hit the road on a tour of regional NSW in 2021 (sadly, derailed by Covid halfway through… but it will be back in 2022!). Sustainable Salons took care of the exterior wrap of the unit because we love sustainable story-telling that grabs attention, while the interior design was yet another perfect example of an unexpected success model. The awesome industrial-meets-outback-meets-hipster vibe was brought to life by Xanda Luca Interiors, which is the side hustle of the very talented Kathleen Lindsey, owner of Plush Hair, a renowned salon in Wagga Wagga.

So – here we are. The hairdressing industry leading the charge with a renewable energy initiative in partnership with a state government, in a mobile unit designed by a recycling social enterprise and longtime hairdresser-turned-interior-designer, intended to convince farmers – by giving them a haircut – that this is the future of how they’ll shear their sheep and power their machinery. Now, tell me you could have seen THAT coming!

Andrew Forrest made his fortune in iron ore. Yet, two years ago, he earned a Ph.D in marine ecology and announced a crusade to do something about climate change after our devastating bushfires in 2019/20.

His pledge to jump head first into the green energy space has been met with skepticism, but he’s also perfectly placed to succeed, with money (billions!), guts (experience and power) and know-how (his business is grounded in construction and engineering) at his disposal. It might feel like an unlikely match, but all the boxes are ticked.

That’s what it looked like for our green energy hydrogen opportunity and H2Cuts! And when you look around, you might start to see glimpses of your own unexpected success models, too.

We recently released our members’ individual Certificate of Positive Impact that shows what their business has achieved for sustainability since being part of our program. In the beginning, some of them could have thought that sustainability and salons was a strange or unnecessary pairing, but their returning conscious clients and our collective impact is proving that it’s actually perfectly placed for both business success and the future of our planet kind of success.

After everything we’ve been through during the pandemic, the green hydrogen story reminded me that sustainability is also about acknowledging that we have an unexpected power to shake up the norm. It doesn’t have to be Andrew Forrest big to have impact, either… we just have to be open to giving the ‘art of the possible’ a chance.

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