Products with Purpose

MISSIO Hair’s Lorin Van Zandt looks to fight human trafficking

No matter what the role, LORIN VAN ZANDT has a great desire to help others live up to their full potentials. Though she started her career as an elementary school teacher, she could not ignore her love for doing hair especially as it was a direct link to encouragement for women.

“I am a mom, a wife, and a business owner, and I am passionate about every role I hold,” Van Zandt says. “I am an encourager at heart and believe that there is no greater calling than living a life of serving and helping others using the gifts one has been given. I decided to go back to school at night to get my cosmetology license, started working as a hair stylist, and through that work, realized the impact serving could have on women beyond the chair.”

True to form, she was not content to only style hair. So, she found a way to make an even bigger impact by co-founding MISSIO Hair in 2017.

The mission of the Wilmington-based company is to use beauty to restore hope and fight human trafficking.

“From the beginning, we wanted MISSIO to be an expression of hope and for people to feel this through the brand; therefore, we gave much attention to each element including the design, fragrances, and development of each product,” Van Zandt says. “We worked side by side with cosmetic chemists and manufacturers through multiple revisions to make sure the products were just right … Safety is a crucial part of the brand’s ethos, and I’m proud to say all products are formulated without sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. We’re constantly working on new products and developing more efficient processes. Every day is a different adventure, and we love that!”

MISSIO’s product line includes an assortment of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products as well as artisan candles and accessories. They sell online (missiohair.com) as well as distribute to select salons nationwide.

Van Zandt was able to compile her years of experience in different areas to create MISSIO.

“The heart for the initiatives emerged first, followed by the idea for a hair product company to support the initiatives,” she says. “As a hair stylist, I realized there was a huge potential to make an impact in the lives of others, from the stylist’s chair to ‘beyond the chair.’”

Years ago, Van Zandt began volunteering her services and giving haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and facials to women in need and transition in homeless shelters, drug rehab centers, and recovery homes.

“I eventually began working with victims of human trafficking, and, as I heard their stories, it inspired my husband and me to do something about this issue,” she says. “I realized there was a role the beauty industry could play in making a difference and became very passionate about the idea of a purpose-driven hair product. Then, after much time, prayer, creative brainstorming, and advice from mentors, MISSIO was born!”

The decision to adopt human trafficking as her cause was a simple one.

“Human trafficking is one of the most terrible injustices that exists, and it is stealing worth from women,” she says. “While there are so many causes that are important and that we’d love to support, we also understand the unique position that hair stylists are in. This enables us to serve women in need in such powerful ways and truly impact communities.

“At MISSIO, we’ve seen firsthand what the impact of our efforts can do for those in need and are committed to using our platform and products to help eradicate human trafficking. We do this through three initiatives: We EDUCATE salons and communities to identify potential victims, we SERVE women who are at-risk or in recovery from exploitation, and we GIVE to nonprofit partners fighting human trafficking worldwide.”

Van Zandt’s message has spread quickly.

“It has been amazing and humbling to see people all over the nation embracing the story and purpose of MISSIO,” she says. “Whether we’re shipping products to every corner of the country or hearing stories of inspired stylists and salons making such a difference in their own cities, we are incredibly grateful.”

The line also was included as part of Magnolia’s Spring at the Silos event at TV and lifestyle personality Joanna Gaines’ retail establishment in Waco, Texas.

“It has been a true honor to have our products handpicked by editors nationwide. We also still can’t believe the exposure we received from being featured in POPSUGAR’s Spring 2019 Must Have Box,” Van Zandt says about other national notices. “People are often very interested in the fact that this brand calls the coastal town of Wilmington home, and we love that. The business community here has offered amazing support and are such an inspiration for us, and we can’t think of a better place to do life, family, and business.”

Since MISSIO began, the owners have donated thousands to the nonprofits they support – two that are local and one that is international. Those are Five14 Revolution, A Safe Place, and Love Justice International.

“Knowing that we can be a creative source of funding for these organizations is so meaningful,” Van Zandt says. “We love supporting their amazing work whether it is funding the everyday happenings at the local emergency shelter or rescuing girls at borders overseas. People love knowing that their hair products are contributing to this work.”


Take 5 with Lorin Van Zandt

What made you want to focus on human trafficking as MISSIO’s giveback focus?

“As a hair stylist, I realized there was a huge potential to make an impact in the lives of others, from the stylist’s chair to ‘beyond the chair.’ Years ago, I began volunteering my services to women in need/transition and eventually began working with victims of human trafficking. As I heard their stories, it inspired my husband and I to do something about this issue.”

How does your background as a teacher help with what you’re doing now?

“A large part of what we do at MISSIO is education. We believe that if stylists and salon owners can be educated in identifying potential victims of sex trafficking, we can help prevent it from happening. Therefore, a significant portion of my efforts are still dedicated to teaching salons and stylists through on-the-ground training and monthly webinars. I love empowering the beauty industry!”

What was the toughest lesson you learned about starting a business?

“Starting a business takes an unbelievable amount of grit, patience, determination, and time. As a team, we have had to learn to celebrate and see successes in the small things, trusting they contribute toward the bigger picture (and) laying the foundation for the future.”

What would you tell people who are interested in volunteering but haven’t had a chance to start yet?

“Do it! From my experience, there is nothing more rewarding than showing up and serving those in need. Volunteering has had such a profound impact on my life, and there are so many great organizations in the Wilmington community that need support. I am convinced that some of the most meaningful times in life come when we are willing to step outside of our comfort zone and use our gifts to serve others – whatever your unique gift might be!”

What’s next for you?

“First and foremost, we’re committed to continuing to serve at-risk women and to doing our part to help in the fight against human trafficking. We’re excited about a number of partnerships and collaborations with like-minded companies that will extend our reach and impact. And, of course, we’re hard at work on additional products to add to the growing list of products with purpose!”

To view more of photographer Stephanie Savas’s work, go to stephaniesavasphotography.com.

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Categories: Women to Watch

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