Sunday | April 26, 2015
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Star-Worthy

Looking for something to tame your mane or create the luscious locks of your wildest air guitar fantasies?

Hearts & Stars, a new product line created by 39-year-old Kona stylist Jason Harsin, strives to help users achieve rock star hair worthiness.

Online sales began earlier this summer at hearts-and-stars.com, where 12-ounce professional grade shampoo and conditioner are being sold for $20 each. The response has been “overwhelmingly positive and really, really, really great,” Harsin said. Besides being featured in this month’s Nylon magazine and receiving “gushing” feedback, Harsin said people have claimed his shampoo and conditioner fixed their dandruff problems.

Harsin first got the idea to create hair products in 2002 while living in Venice Beach, Calif., and working for celebrity stylist Zac Jenkinson. He was tired of “a glut of really inferior products that don’t work the way they’re supposed to and try to squeeze every penny out of you.” To him, it seemed like everything available in the market was subpar, not able to meet the needs of his humidity-battling, beachgoing clientele.

Harsin just wanted something that would clean without drying hair out while adding proteins to strengthen and repair hair.

“Every professional product I tried was either drying clients’ hair out or (was) too oily,” he said. “Hair is 91 percent protein, and the ocean, sand and sun all strip hair of proteins. You need tons of protein to replace what’s been lost. I just wanted a product that worked.”

No one was surprised when the contagiously upbeat Harsin announced his plan; in fact, they called it “a rather perfect idea.” Harsin had always been in “creative pursuits.” Prior to being a stylist, he partook in music and did graphic design.

About two years ago, Harsin moved full time to the Big Island, a place he credits for “bringing his creative juices back.” Unlike in California, he could think without “distractions or city clutter.” Also serendipitous, he said, was “the tremendous amount of support, encouragement and feedback (he received) from the amazing people here.”

This is also where Harsin got a connection to a chemist to help him go beyond conceptualizing. The product name, Hearts & Stars, was a friend’s email signature.

It took a year of perfecting the formulas for Hearts & Stars shampoo and conditioner, which are special blends of natural ingredients and can be used on all hair types. They are meant for both men and women. The products contain hair keratin and hemp oil to boost protein levels and replenish damaged hair. While most commercial products use paraben wax, a supplement that causes buildup, and sulfates, Hearts & Stars contains neither, Harsin said.

To finish it off, Harsin said he chose a blend of eucalyptus, tingling tea tree and sage for a clean, contemporary, “awesome” smell. Each bottle features heart-shaped sunglasses next to the tattoo-influenced Hearts & Stars logo, as well as its promise that the product was “tested on rock stars, not animals.” Harsin said the product slogan, “Be a star and break hearts,” is meant to celebrate individual beauty — including flaws — and everybody’s inner star.

Sleek to Chic Salon and Day Spa on Mamalahoa Highway in Waimea is the first Big Island business to offer his hair products, though there are a handful of stylists islandwide also using Hearts & Stars. Harsin already has two more products in the works and plans to have at least six or seven total products, including a body wash, by the year’s end.

To celebrate the launch of Hearts & Stars, Sleek to Chic is hosting a free party from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8, which Harsin promised will be “fun, off-the-chain, nice shindig.” There will be food, drinks, music, giveaways and discounts on the products. A portion of all proceeds will go to The Food Basket, the island’s only food bank.

Contributing to The Food Basket was important to Harsin because not only is it an important cause (“Everybody needs to eat.”), it’s also a chance to give back to the people and place that helped him during this venture.

“I couldn’t have done this without all the involvement of close friends and others who supported and guided me,” he said. “You never know how a relationship will transform or lead to other connections.”

Harsin had four tips for aspiring and newbie entrepreneurs: “Don’t get frustrated. Get ready to work. Be cool and nice to everyone. Build quality relationships.”