People go into business for various reasons. Usually it involves finding a way to earn a livelihood doing something one enjoys and/or is good at. Some people are also moved by a desire to educate and improve the health of the community. Here are three such local entrepreneurs.

It’s a dirty secret that most commercial hair and skin care products are toxic to the human body. There is virtually no safety testing of the thousands of chemicals used by manufacturers. Here’s how it works: the manufacturer only needs to “self-declare” that its products are safe – no safety documentation is required by the FDA. As a result Americans are daily covering ourselves with harmful body care products. This is a problem since most of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into the body. The problem is exacerbated with hair treatment sprays, since we also absorb those through our breathing. Fortunately, there are non-toxic alternatives for hair care. Yvonne Lee-Hawkins, owner of Ennovy Creations hair salon, has chosen the non-toxic route. Over the years she learned about herbal supplements and the healing power they have. She learned that chemicals block the absorption of nutrients, while the plant-based products she uses allows deeper and better absorption. This knowledge made her more determined to take better care of her clients, and share with them the dangers in conventional retail products.

“Since childhood I’ve had a love for hair. I pursued my dream of becoming a licensed Cosmetologist in my late twenties. After watching and assisting co-workers who were struggling in their technical skills, I decided I wanted to teach the art and science of Cosmetology and attained licensing to be a Cosmetology teacher,” Yvonne said. “I have worked in salon chains, cosmetology schools, and now have my own business doing what I love. Since opening in November of 2014, I have had the opportunity to give back to the community by offering free hair services to families at a local homeless shelter, and also to some school age children of mothers with limited income.”

In 2011 Yvonne experienced health problems that required her being placed on continuous oxygen therapy. She cleaned up her diet and was able to come off oxygen in 2013. Since then, she says, “I use the salon to introduce clients to alternative products that are botanical based, vegan, and gluten free. I continue to tell others of my experience and I have a support group (Food for Fuel). Food for Fuel is for anyone who wants to learn of alternatives to conventional medicine, or share information than can help other group members live healthier lives.” She notes that diet impacts hair, skin, and nails. Yvonne Lee-Hawkins can be reached at Ennovy Creations, 1010 Homeland Avenue in Greensboro. Ennovy Creations is a full-service Salon offering hair services for all textures, natural nail services, brow waxing, and reflexology, while prioritizing the use of organic ingredients, CPTG essential oils, vegan, and gluten free products. Call (336) 456-4429 or ennovycreations@gmail.com for more information.

Like Yvonne, Annah Awartani also prioritizes providing her customers with healthy products and educating them about wellness. She is the Owner of Zaytoon, a Mediterranean restaurant established in 2006 with a mission to serve good local foods. Annah says: “I believe food is spiritual; having good foods is very important to nourish the soul and the body. We started Zaytoon at the downtown Farmers’ Market so the seeds of it were focused on using local, organic and clean foods. With my back ground as a teacher I use my training to educate people about food as medicine.” Annah has a BA in Arabic Language and Statistics and a MA in Education. She also has a certificate as an Integrated Health Coach from Duke University and a certificate from Minnesota University focusing on food as medicine.

In case you were wondering, “zaytoon” is Arabic for “olive”. At Zaytoon the food is cooked from scratch using wholesome, non-GMO ingredients – locally grown as much as possible. Annah has a passion for educating people about their health. She has taught classes on subjects such as “Food as Medicine”, “Cooking for Your Health”, “Cooking for Your Brain”, and “Cooking for Your Skin”. Zaytoon’s restaurant served Greensboro for 10 years, and was a popular lunchtime destination. Zaytoon was in an office building on N. Elm Street until about a year ago. At that time their lease was terminated when the landlord decided that a restaurant wasn’t the right fit for the building. Annah is a firm believer in building community; before vacating the restaurant she invited the community to a “Goodbye Party”. It was a festive celebration and the restaurant was jam-packed with appreciative customers. Annah provided a free feast as a thank you to those who had supported Zaytoon. For now she sells her delicious, wholesome foods at the downtown Farmers’ Market, and also at Deep Roots Market on N. Eugene Street. She also takes special orders while still looking for a good location to re-open the restaurant. You can reach her at www.Zaytoonfoods.com or 336-549-4939.

Paige Cox is the Director and Co-Founder of Reconsidered Goods, a new non-profit servicing the Triad area. Reconsidered Goods is a creative reuse center with a mission to reduce the waste that goes into our local landfill. They do this by teaching the community about the power of reuse. Although there are many places to donate unused home goods, their reuse center promotes the donation of items that can be reused for art, to support teachers, and items that manufacturers can pass on to make available to the community. They also host workshops and field trips to promote the arts and environmental education.

Paige was previously a member of the Greensboro Anthropologie display and merchandising team. She is also a full time fiber artist. She says she’s “always been a fan of Durham’s Scrap Exchange. They have been around for 25 years and have made a huge impact on waste reduction. As an artist, a creative reuse center is the ultimate place to shop for unusual and inexpensive materials. I reached out to the Scrap Exchange’s Executive Director Ann Woodward and inquired about bringing this business model to Greensboro. She invited me to a training last fall, where for four days I learned the process of making this a reality for our area. I left Anthropologie last winter to pursue this full time. My co-founders Martha Hughes-James and Joseph Edwards joined the team along with our board members and we were able to secure our 501C3 status and a great building and here we are.”

Paige’s vision is to create a welcoming community center vibe where everyone feels at home. Their inventory is 100 percent donated by the community and local businesses. They hope that everyone can take some ownership in their successes and the happiness you feel in the fun and creative environment they strive to foster. Reconsidered Goods is located at 2805 Patterson Street in Greensboro. You can reach them at 336-763-5041, www.reconsideredgoods.org, or paige@reconsideredgoods.org.

– Joel Landau
Landau’s column appears the 4th Wednesday of each month.