June 2012

JUNE 2012: Charity Corner - Locks of Love: Corks and Karma Collaborate

Author: Kitty Bartell

The idea for a singular act of charity grew from a self-described “pseudo mid-life crisis,” for Josh Luman, one of the owners of Corks Wine Co. Neighborhood Wine Bar. Off and on throughout his life, Luman has had ponytails and recently has been toying with the idea of growing another despite the objections of Gabby Ferrell, his partner in business and in life. Luman was looking for a viable excuse to grow out his hair when the charity Locks of Love came to mind. Four years prior, Ferrell had donated her own hair to the organization, and the partners began discussing how they might utilize their desire to contribute again and incorporate their business in the process.

Having grown up as high school friends in Marietta, Ohio, Luman and Ferrell began their business partnership five years ago with the opening of Corks in Bluffton’s Promenade, followed by a second location on Hilton Head Island. “We were motivated to do something for ourselves,” Luman said. “Corks came from the idea of creating a great place where we would want to hang out and spend time together.” Taking on projects as partners comes naturally to this couple, so they began formulating a plan to take on Locks of Love.

As a fortuitous coincidence, Salon Karma, Corks’ retail neighbor in Bluffton, was interested in partnering up for the project. Ferrell took the idea to the salon’s owner Danielle Keasling, and despite having only been open since early 2012, Keasling knew just how to complement Luman and Ferrell’s vision. For the month of April 2012, Corks accepted monetary donations on behalf of Locks and of Love and offered a 20 percent discount at Corks for the month to anyone who donated. Salon Karma provided free haircuts and styling during April for anyone wishing to cut their locks for the charity.

While the final count is not yet in, at least 10 people have donated their ponytails, including both Luman and Ferrell, along with Corks’ bartender Stephanie Cremonte and her boyfriend Robbie Cahill of Cahill’s Market in Bluffton. According to Keasling at least two clients who were in the salon for regular appointments decided to donate their locks right on the spot. “My girls have really loved participating in this project,” she said. The salon’s stylists donated their time and talents to make the participants look outstanding after their minimum 10-inch ponytails were cut.

Altruism is the foundation on which Salon Karma was founded and named. Keasling encourages her team to propose ideas for participating in charitable events to raise awareness and money for causes close to their individual hearts. Since their opening in January, the Salon Karma staff has donated time or money to Locks of Love, the Humane Association, the American Heart Association, a local battered women’s shelter, and Volunteers in Medicine. “I love working with other businesses to give back to the community. We hope the Locks of Love project will be a yearly way for us to do that together with Corks,” Keasling said.

Luman just may have a great excuse to make growing a ponytail an annual event. “All kidding aside, I watched the before and after videos on the Locks of Love website, and I challenge anyone to become aware of this cause and not want to participate,” he said. “Watching the videos of the recipients is sobering. This project brings a lot of joy during a very difficult time.”

Locks of Love is lucky to have Luman, Ferrell, and Keasling in their corner, and everyone involved looks forward to collaborating on future projects. Meanwhile, Corks Wine Co. will continue taking monetary donations on behalf of Locks of Love.

For more information visit www.locksoflove.org

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