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A woman who has become a victim of human trafficking loses many things. One of those things is the vital feeling of self-worth. There’s a lot to be said about the impact of a lack of self-worth on a woman’s overall physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Sometimes, even the smallest gestures of assistance and kindness can help a woman on her journey to speak the truth that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. My guest this week is Lorin Van Zandt, the founder of Missio Hair, a hair-product company that uses beauty to restore hope and fight human trafficking. I met Lorin at a human trafficking education event in North Carolina and I fell in love with Lorin, the Missio mission and the Missio products. Join me as I hear from Lorin about how she combined her interest in hair care with her desire to end human trafficking. Lorin was so generous to offer a coupon code to Business With A Purpose Podcast listeners. Use code MOLLY20 for 20% off your purchase from Missio Hair.
Lorin is a mom of two and has been married to her husband Kyle for 13 years. Lorin’s career started as an elementary school teacher, but she knew deep down that she really wanted to be a hair stylist.
Lorin went after her dream and started cosmetology school while working full time as a teacher.
There is a very unique opportunity for relationship that exists between a stylist and a client when getting a haircut. The walls come down and you get to know someone quickly. Lorin saw the time she spent with clients as a time to get to know them and to encourage them.
Lorin realized just getting a haircut could change someone’s day. She knew she could take that opportunity to people who needed it more: women in transition from homelessness and drug rehab centers. She eventually started working with victims of human trafficking as well.
While partnering with a nonprofit ministry in Southern California, Lorin was encouraged to use her gifts to serve others in creative ways. One day Lorin received a call asking if she could help a woman who had chunks of hair ripped out by her abuser.
Lorin arranged for this woman to come to a salon that was closed on a Sunday. Just one other staff member was present in order to create a safe, peaceful atmosphere.
The transformation after her haircut was incredible. She went from having no confidence to holding her head up and blossoming instantly after her haircut. She jumped up and down, smiled, laughed and loved the way she looked.
The experience made Lorin realize she wanted to do something to help other women out of similar situations and encourage them on their new journeys as much as possible.
There is so much power in treating a fellow human with dignity and kindness. Missio Hair has learned after working with so many survivors that a simple hair cut can help someone feel normal and safe again.
Lorin and Missio also work to educate other stylists and salons on simple tips for care services, how to look out for signs on human trafficking, and resources for getting help.
Lorin and her husband Kyle had the idea to start a nonprofit to continue helping those healing from human trafficking. They soon met with a mentor who encouraged them to create a product to sell that supported the mission.
After moving back to North Carolina, Lorin and Kyle realized that pursing a product line would open tremendous opportunity for impact. They put together a plan and started sharing it.
Eventually an investor approached them to help the business get off the ground. Of course, all of this took off as Lorin and Kyle were busy parenting a three-month-old.
They started learning the ins and outs about launching a product. Two years ago, Missio was launched despite their busy schedules and inexperience in creating a new product from scratch.
While Lorin was working as a hair stylist she became very concerned about one of her regular clients who came in with bruises, slurred speech, and stories that raised a lot of red flags for Lorin. Even with her training, Lorin was unsure of what to do to help.
Thanks to partnerships with organizations in the area, Lorin became educated on the steps to take to find help for woman to get themselves out of dangerous situations.
Lorin quickly learned that rather than a dramatic intervention by a swat team or local authorities, the most important way to help a woman out of a bad situation was to be a safe place for them to reach out for help.
Lorin gave her client a phone number to call. Lorin realized that if this is happening all over the world, she had to get involved to give more people resources to help.
You have the tools to help someone, whether educating yourself on red flags or arming yourself with something as simple as a phone number and connecting someone to resources. You can’t force someone to get help, but you can open a door and let them to decide if they want to walk through it.
Missio Hair’s team provides free education in salons, online, trade shows, and cosmology schools to equip others in the beauty industry to call in to report a situation or equip a victim with tools for help.
With such a big goal and mission, Lorin knew the Missio brand and products needed to be something that people want to purchase. Lorin met with manufacturers in person to discuss design, aesthetics, ingredients, and what she wanted to products to do.
Lorin received samples of products in the research and development phase where she got to tweak things and test fragrances with friends, family, clients and community members. The research and testing process often takes up to a year and Lorin doesn’t move forward with a product launch until she’s fully confident in a product’s ability to sell out.
Each product contains the highest quality ingredients including coconut oil and fragrances like bergamot, citrus, pineapple, and coralily that are proven to be uplifting to the senses.
Missio products have made their way into the world and even been featured by Real Simple Magazine, Pop Sugar, and various subscription boxes! At least 30% of profits goes toward fighting human trafficking in three different ways: Education, service, and giving. For more information about these initiatives and why Missio believes in them, click here!
Find out what Lorin would pick if she could have any superpower, her answer to a “would you rather”, something that she never gets a chance to talk about, and of course what it means to her to run a business with purpose! Remember to use code MOLLY20 for 20% off your purchase from Missio Hair. Thank you Lorin!
ABOUT LORIN VAN ZANDT:
Lorin Van Zandt is a hair stylist, educator, entrepreneur, and advocate for women, all while being a teammate to her husband, Kyle, and a mommy to two little girls. When she was fifteen-years-old, Lorin began doing hair and quickly became passionate about beauty. She soon realized that beauty could be used to help people in need, and she began giving haircuts to the homeless and those in drug rehab centers. Recognizing the potential for this passion and profession to be a platform for good, she enrolled in cosmetology school in the evenings after long days of teaching 4th graders.
In 2013, she had the opportunity to work with victims of human trafficking for the first time. Many had just been rescued and were taken to safe places, and Lorin would to go meet them in secure locations. She gave manicures, pedicures and haircuts to women who didn’t believe they had worth after years of being forced into sex, sold and used as if they were nothing. However, something as simple as a haircut led to something so big. These women began to believe something new about themselves. It was in those moments that the vision for MISSIO was born.
In June of 2017, they launched MISSIO, which is a hair product company that exists to use beauty to restore hope and fight human trafficking. They have created stylist-designed and salon-tested hair products that serve as a vehicle to educate salons in victim identification, serve women at-risk and in recovery, and give to non-profit partners. Their double-bottom-line approach is an innovative and effective way the reach customers who want their purchases to matter while unlocking the potential of the beauty industry to directly fight human trafficking.
A graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, Lorin taught 4th grade for five years and has been a professional hair stylist since 2010.
~19:22 – “We decided that having a business with a purpose, pursing a product company could actually open up tremendous opportunity for impact.”
~10:40- “I realized in that moment that she was starting to believe something new about herself.”
~21:38: “I think when people have these dreams or desires you think it will happen overnight, but the reality is that our entire lives have been leading up to this in so many different ways; our experiences over years have led into this.”
~47:55 “To know that we’ve created a very tangible, easy way for a consumer to feel like a part of a solution, to know that something is making that much of a difference is so exciting.”