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Entrepreneurs
Business Observer Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010 10 years ago

Claw from boredom

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An Italian hairdresser in Fort Myers got tired of cutting hair the old-fashioned way and invented a new tool that has been well-received by the pros.
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

Valentino LoSauro calls it the flight of the bumblebee.

In a frenzy of hair cutting, LoSauro flicks his fingers through a client's hair with what looks like claws on the tips of his fingers.

The claws are finger extensions made of hard plastic with a blade inside each one that lets the hairdresser run his fingers through his customer's hair to give it a zigzag look. LoSauro has already sold about 5,000 of these finger extensions called “clawz” to other professionals.

LoSauro, who had been cutting hair for 25 years, was ready to hang up his shears 10 years ago. “It was getting boring,” says the Sicilian-born hairdresser.

Scissors cut hair at straight angles, and blades give it the layered look. But LoSauro dreamed up clawz to cut hair in a zigzag forms. “You create motion,” LoSauro explains.

Like beating an egg, using clawz gives hair a fluffy, vibrant appearance. It's another tool in a hairdressers' kit and won't replace scissors or blades.

“It closes the loop,” LoSauro says

To design clawz, LoSauro hired an engineer to design the hard plastic finger extensions that hold a small stainless steel blade. Soft plastic tabs help secure the clawz on your fingers so they don't fall off.

A keyboard player, LoSauro got the idea for clawz by watching a classical guitarist play his instrument with picks on the end of each finger.

In fact, using clawz is a performance in itself. LoSauro travels to hairdressing conventions and cuts hair on stage using his invention to show other professionals how to use them. That's where he sells most of his clawz. “This thing without the technique is nothing,” he says.

Still, it's been tough to get other hairdressers to try the clawz. “They think they know everything,” LoSauro chuckles. “They don't expect it from a guy my age,” he adds without revealing how old he really is.

Designing the finger extensions and exhibiting at conventions hasn't been cheap. LoSauro estimates he's spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” He sold his salon at Edison Mall in Fort Myers to fund the venture and manages another salon in town to pay the bills and keep his skills fresh. It took him three years to develop clawz from idea to production of the product in Taiwan.

Big hairdresser shows in New York and Orlando cost $15,000 to $20,000 to exhibit and perform. He uses a crew of five people and cashiers who help sell the $100 sets of four clawz.

He also holds one-day classes in Fort Myers to teach hairdressers techniques like the “Flight of the Bumblebees.” The cost of a class is $100 and he's taught 50 hairdressers so far.

Now LoSauro is targeting a broader market with a new product he hopes to sell on television called “fringey.” It's for consumers who cut their own hair and don't visit salons.

The fringey is designed for people to cut bangs and each one will cost $20. “It's good to be ahead of the game,” he says.

—Jean Gruss

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