December 10, 2010

Faces selling for $24.99 (free shipping till Christmas)

WINDSOR -- After a chewing-out from your boss, wouldn't it be nice to go home and dropkick his head?

The opportunity is yours with a new locally made product that's been on the market only three weeks.

Two Loons Trading Company in Windsor is selling a three-dimensional life-size head embossed with any face you choose for $24.99.

The "Headee" is the creation of company president Mark Scribner.

Customers build their Headees online at www.headee.com by uploading a photograph, chosing a skin color and hair style, then placing the order.

The gag gift can be the likeness of your favorite person or loved one, or even a pet. Scribner says it can be hugged and cuddled, kept on a shelf or desk, used in games and political campaigns or taken on trips.

But best of all, he said the likeness of a soldier departing overseas can be left behind with family. Or they can bring a Headee along with them to make the separation easier.

Scribner provides simple instructions at www.headee.com along with a Headee "movie" that shows all its uses.

He said the idea came to him 12 years ago at a friend's camp.

"It started out as a ridiculous, stupid idea," Scribner said. "And 12 years later, it's on the market."

The 49-year-old entrepreneur said his first attempt at making a Headee, an iron-on transfer of his own photograph, wasn't marketable. He still keeps the prototype in his office at 76 Augusta-Rockland Road.

But now, with advanced technology, he is able to offer a more refined product.

"Twelve years ago there was no Internet, but also we didn't have all the software we have now," he said.

Scribner has a staff of five local employees. Aimee Wilson, of Windsor, is one -- she stitches Headee patterns together as orders come in.

The Headee process starts off at a printer specially designed for fabric. The photo is printed on a cotton and spandex covering that is stitched and hand-stuffed with polyester fill. A pouch of polypropylene pellets is inserted to ensure balance.

On Wednesday, Wilson downloaded a customer's photograph from the website and transferred it to a Headee covering in just a couple of minutes. Then she used a dryer to set the ink.

She took the covering, which is in two parts -- front and back of the head -- to her sewing machine in another room.

The Headee she worked on was for a man in China -- the country -- to be sent as a Christmas present to his brother living in North Carolina.

"I enjoy sewing. That's what I do as a hobby," Wilson said, sitting at her machine. "It's a great company to work for with flexible hours."

When business begins to pick up -- the company has to receive at least 30 orders a day -- Scribner said he will contract the work out to Dirigo Stitching in Skowhegan.

He wouldn't reveal the startup cost of the business. "My goal is to retrieve my investment over the next couple years," he said.

Scribner said Headee has a website and a Facebook page, and he is considering advertising on TV.

"It's a visual product," he said.

Tyson LaVerdiere, product manager, said the Headee is a complex process of digitally painting and editing many layered skin and hair graphic files by hand in the computer, which are then cut and exported into many different formats.

Scribner said he is offering free shipping -- normally, $4.95 per item -- until Christmas. He said 10 percent of the profits are donated to Kennebec Valley Community College, in Fairfield, to help support student financial aid.

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