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NC made products

Gerry Taylor, owner of Landon & Co. Hair Studio, uses Thermafuse as his premier product. Photo by Bethany Turner.

I never really received many interesting  emails until I started chronicling my Live Local experiment in December 2009. Now, I get lots. It ranges from suggestions about topics to cover or new business openings, to initiatives that existing businesses are implementing (like last week’s mention of The Camellia Cottage’s pamphlet “And Now for Something Completely Local…”). My favorite to date has been from Gerry Taylor of Landon & Co. Hair Studio.

Anyone who has seen me in person will attest that I usually look homeless. That I am covering a salon should shock many, if not most of my acquaintances.  It is not an aspiration of mine to continue the “grunge” look; nor is it any personal aversion to the beauty industry. It is just that I am overwhelmed, overworked and broke, so any expenditure on clothing or accessories is purely theoretical for the time being. However, I understand that many women budget money for and spend time at salons and dress shops, and that a lot of consumer spending power is directed at these two segments of the economy.

Located on Water Street, the salon’s owner got in touch to tell us about a product called “Thermafuse,” which is a high-end, salon-quality hair care line sold to and by hairstylists. What makes it stand above any other product on the market is how it is developed and manufactured in North Carolina—Kannapolis to be exact, just outside of Charlotte. This is interesting from a Live Local standpoint for several reasons: First, the importance of manufacturing to our state economy; second, the opportunity to purchase a product made here and spend the money not only in the U.S.A. but in our state; and third, because of the proximity to Kannapolis, much less fossil fuel is expended in bringing it here, and less money is spent on shipping and transport.

We are hearing so much right now in the news about the collapse of American manufacturing. It’s a topic I spend a lot of time thinking about, so I started looking for some numbers about the manufacturing slice of the North Carolina pie. Is it completely gone? Or is it limping back to life? According to the Industrial Extension Service of NC State University, “Manufacturing continues to be the leading contributor to North Carolina’s $398 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP), at 18.2 percent in 2009, or over $72 billion. In addition, manufacturing employs 15.1 percent of the total workforce, providing above-average wage jobs to more than 500,000 individuals.”

Right now those numbers do not take into account artisan startups, like Wilmington’s own designers, Ruby Assata and Bottle Freaker USA. Still, small ideas are where companies like Thermafuse begin: Someone has a passion or sees a need and works confidently in the direction of fulfilling it. Eventually, the small startup (we hope) flourishes and employs others. Taylor points out (and I agree), “With economic conditions as they are, it is refreshing to see that people are more concerned with supporting local industry.”

Thoughts about environmental impact and economic realities are at the forefront.  “I work and I live downtown,” he says. “I don’t put many miles on my car.”

It’s part of his overall approach to conscious business. He listed a specific series of reasons for choosing Thermafuse. “In addition to being made in North Carolina, all of the products are 100 percent sulfate, salt and paraben-free. They are also 100 percent vegan. An additional plus is they contain something called ‘HeatSmart Complex.’ This means that the products work great alone, but if you add heat from a blow dryer or iron, you get additional conditioning and protection. We find that our clients love the products, and from a stylist’s viewpoint, the products respond as they promise.”

Joan Loch, co-owner of Crescent Moon and a client of the salon, agrees. “I used the Supporte Working Spray and [Gerry] introduced it to me.” As a small business owner, she says the option to support NC business plays a role in her decisions: “Absolutely! Local and regional is always the best!”

The beauty industry has struggled long with images of animal testing, and dangerous or destructive products (the platinum bleaches causing baldness leap to mind as well as the dyeing of eyelashes leading to blindness, among others). Thermafuse sounds like a truly responsible answer to many concerns.

Taylor adds, “I am pleased with my decision to carry it as our signature product line, and I feel even better knowing that I am supporting a North Carolina business in the process.”

To learn more about Thermafuse, visit Landon & Co.’s Facebook page. There is a wonderful instructional video, as well as info about the salon and the manufacturing company.

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