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Her business is all-organic and all about good juju

Queen Village salon and spa uses no chemicals.

Julie Ebner poses in her shop, Juju Spa, in Queen Village on May 7, 2013. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )
Julie Ebner poses in her shop, Juju Spa, in Queen Village on May 7, 2013. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )Read more

JULIE 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.