by Bethany M. Dunbar
copyright the Chronicle 3-20-2013
NEWPORT — In a culmination of years of creative process, Jon Somes of Newport is now selling hair and skin care products in his salon, under a label with his own name on it.
“It had been on my mind for years and years,” he said in an interview at the salon Friday. In 2006 he started thinking about it seriously and looking for the right chemist. He found someone in Oregon and has been working on the recipes ever since.
These recipes aren’t something you can cook up in a regular kitchen.
He tried to find someone in Vermont, but he could not find the right person or lab. So for now, the products are shipped in bulk to Vermont and bottled and labeled here. If sales quantities justify a change in the future, he will set up a lab to make it here too and possibly create local jobs.
But for now he’s just really glad to have finally settled on the right recipes and be able to offer his products for sale — at the shop or from his website.
“At first I was just going to do shampoos and conditioners,” he said. But he decided that facial products are also really important for someone’s overall look.
He read a lot about various ingredients and tried lots of combinations before settling on the right mixtures. One important ingredient for skin is hyaluronic acid, which was originally made of roosters’ combs. These days the same ingredient is made in a lab with a fermenting process.
The ingredients are 83 to 93 percent organic, but Mr. Somes said he finds that completely organic shampoos and conditioners have a tendency to leave hair somewhat too dry, not shiny, and staticy — especially in winter in Vermont with wood stoves drying out the indoor air in a lot of homes.
Getting the right fragrance for the shampoos and conditioners was another whole process.
“I had a feeling about how I wanted it to smell,” he said. He found a perfumery in Pennsylvania that was able to help him come up with scents that he had described to them, with ingredients he wanted. Some of the ingredients are amber, citron, and mandarin.
He said it should have one scent when it first comes out of the bottle and hits the air in the shower, and another one later after one’s hair is dry.
“There’s undertones to it,” he said.
He’s had the products in the shop for a while already, long enough to get some reaction from clients. The very first person he used the shampoo and conditioner on immediately mentioned it.
She said, “I don’t know what this is, but I love this.”
He said he’s pretty sure many of his clients are enjoying the products. If they had only bought one bottle he might think they were trying to be polite, but they have been coming back for more.
The products are expensive due to the expense of some of the ingredients. One of the ingredients, argon oil, is critically important and only comes from Morocco.
Mr. Somes said once the perfumery had put together the fragrance he wanted, the people there gave him some feedback that really pleased him. They told him the fragrance could be a perfume, not just a shampoo. Their comments were:
“A sophisticated, modern, fine fragrance type, opening with a citrusy sparkle of citron and mandarin, leading to a floral heart of night blooming jasmine, ylang ylang, vetiver and rose, and finishing with an ambery, mossy, patchouli, sandalwood and then an exotic, spicy dry-down.”
Mr. Somes has just finished his website: www.jonsomes.com/index.php. It’s getting some attention already on the Internet. He doesn’t know where this will take him, but he’s extremely happy with the products themselves.
“I had an idea that manifested into an incredible finished product,” he said, and having it done is completely satisfying. “My intention was to make the very best thing possible.”
The Jon Somes Salon has been on Main Street in Newport for three years and draws clients from out of state and Canada. Mr. Somes had a salon in Derby Line in the late ’90s until 2001, then spent some time out west.
He started in his career as a hairstylist after working in real estate and marketing and deciding he wanted a change to something more personal. He studied hairstyling in Paris, and he has been a stylist for 25 years. He serves on the Vermont Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists.
He grew up in New York and Michigan. When he was working in Taos, New Mexico, his reputation as a hairstylist grew to the point where film industry clients sought him out.
contact Bethany M. Dunbar at [email protected]