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A kinder cut

Handcrafted ergonomic scissors are a boon to overworked and aching hairstylists
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It’s been a rough ride for Kieran Jane, a dyslexic school dropout with a failed marriage and a spinal injury. “I’ve never passed any exam because my ability to write was pathetic,” he laments. Nevertheless, Jane now runs a low-profile yet almost revolutionary business from Waihi Beach.

KJ Scissors has changed the lives of many hairdressers in New Zealand. Keep reading: the problem is more serious than it seems. Musculoskeletal disorder is prevalent in almost 70 percent of hairdressers.

Jane knows of one stylist who was consuming 500 paracetamol tablets every month, which her physician warned could be fatal. “My scissors have changed her life,” says Jane. “Gradually her pain subsided and she is now out of danger.”

Having worked in the industry for 22 years, Jane was well aware of the shoulder, neck and head pain suffered by hairdressers. So he spent seven years developing handcrafted ergonomic scissors that are now patented in New Zealand and Australia. His invention is a boon to the 8,500 stylists working in about 2,600 salons in New Zealand.

While some manufacturers, such as those in Japan, develop scissors with neck and shoulder pain in mind, their machine-made scissors are unable to achieve the workmanship, accuracy and precision that a hand-made pair can. “No scissors in the world look or perform like KJ Scissors,” claims Jane. Because they are craned, the blade points down from the level of the shank to improve the angle of cut in relation to the position of the wrist. With only the fingers being used, body pain is reduced.

Not many understand the complexity of making scissors but Jane is changing that. These scissors have been the subject of an MSc thesis in musculoskeletal disorders in New Zealand hairdressers, and they are referred to in a government report on health and safety in the industry. “The training institutes have realised the need to include course contents for the proper use of scissors. All of this has been possible based on my research of a simple yet very useful technique,” says Jane. “In fact, it is so simple, it seems stupid.”

He makes about 25 scissors in ten days using European steel and sells them for $1,000 each. “My scissors are being used by almost every top hairdresser in the country today,” says Jane: Paul Huege de Serville, Stephen Marr and Grant Bettjeman, to name a few.

Jane’s product also has the potential to be adapted for use by surgeons and veterinary doctors, and he is also attracting overseas followers. KJ Scissors are being used in North America, Switzerland, England and Australia and there are plans to soon expand to other overseas markets.

All this was achieved through word of mouth and cold calling. “I prefer to keep a low profile because I can’t keep up with the demand and I have no capital or funding to expand,” says Jane. Still, easing pain is its own reward.

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