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Corps Member Spotlight: Sebastian Jackson

Sebastian Jackson of The Social Club Grooming Company is transforming the way lifestyle business - in this case a salon - impacts the world. A Kiva Detroit loan recipient, Sebastian shares his story and passion for Detroit.
Sebastian Jackson of The Social Club Grooming Company is transforming the way lifestyle business - in this case a salon - impacts the world. A Kiva Detroit loan recipient, Sebastian hails from Flint and moved to Kalamazoo at the age of 10. Sebastian has found a home in Detroit, after moving here at age 17 to study Public Relations at Wayne State University.

Four years ago, Sebastian learned that hair could actually be used to clean up oil spills. He and his wife began researching other uses for hair. After much exploration, Sebastian discovered that the most practical use of hair is to recycle it for nitrogen production. He decided to master the recycling process and scale it by launching his own salon, The Social Club Grooming Company.

The Social Club is a "barber shop and salon that does good", says Sebastian. The salon recycles the hair cut and uses its nitrogen to help grow trees. "We do it because we like to teach about sustainability through the beauty process," says Sebastian. The Social Club has been able to measure its growth one tree at a time. Starting just a year ago, their work has resulted in the planting of 64 trees and counting.

About 7 months after launching his business, Sebastian learned about Michigan Corps' Kiva Detroit initiative and decided it was time to leverage the program to obtain financing that would help take the business to the next level. Through the Kiva fundraising process, The Social Club was able to communicate their message about sustainability with people all over the globe. "From Italy to California, there we were sharing our message about social impact and transformational change through an otherwise ordinary experience of getting your hair cut!" The money raised through Kiva was used for composting, waste, and paper elimination. "Through Kiva Detroit, Michigan Corps has helped [us] become more sustainable." 

Being focused and persistent does not always come easily in the world of social innovation, but Sebastian is able to draw inspiration and remain motivated day after day. "Seeing what we can do keeps me going. It's about understanding sustainability and seeing that it is such a large issue and that the more we grow, the more trees grow, and the more we help the environment."

Sebastian's motto is to "do well by doing good." The Social Club is no exception to this. The Social Club lives by the wise words: "Look good, feel good, do good." An inspiration of Sebastian's is Tom Brennan, founder of the Green Garage, a unique community of triple bottom line businesses in Detroit. "The Green Garage is inspired and dedicated to being great and real at what they do," says Sebastian. To be around people driven to safeguard the environment is inspiring."

After deciding to pursue his own business, Sebastian created a 3-phase model that he aims to live out. Phase 1 entails ensuring that the shop is in a condition where it can be scaled. Phase 2 is creating a communication platform where he can teach about sustainability through the beauty process, like an information hub for sustainable grooming and beauty. Finally, phase 3 is focused on analytics and designing products that are manufactured in Detroit and scaled globally.

Sebastian is a "go get em'" kind of guy who has some words of wisdom for his fellow Corps members passionate about Detroit:
"Detroit is the type of city were you actually can get your hands dirty. Don't ask permission, ask forgiveness. Just do it! Entrepreneurship is about building relationships. Believe in what you want to do. Whether small scale or big scale, just start."
Sebastian's dedication and commitment shines through when he recounts his favorite Michigan memory: "Starting this business and seeing people come in and having a place to connect with other people [is my favorite memory]. Build[ing] something that we can benefit from as a city and state."

Michigan Corps' mantra is "Ask what you can do for your state." When we asked Sebastian what he hoped to do for Michigan, he did not miss a beat. "I'd like to give the state of Michigan a chain of high quality barber-shop and salon experiences grounded in a line of locally-sourced products and sustainable practices. I'd like to work with Michiganders on expansion and remain a true Michigan company."

By Elyse Croce, Digital Communications Fellow at Michigan Corps 
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