By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Laurie Coleman, wife of Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, has invented a tool for hands-free hair drying called the "Blo & Go."
Anyone who has ever tried to style his or her hair by wielding a blow-dryer in one hand and a brush in the other knows that it can be an exasperating juggling act. The challenge of an at-home blowout is what inspired Coleman to invent the Blo & Go, a hair-dryer holster.
For years, Coleman had been jury-rigging wire coat hangers into holders for her blow-dryer so she could use both hands to style her hair. "You go on a trip with senators and you have 45 minutes and you have to be ready to go," says Coleman, who doesn't have the luxury of traveling with a hairstylist. "Norm's not going to blow-dry my hair."
Her makeshift holsters were awkward, but they worked. That led a friend, Anthony Turk, who is now her business partner, to encourage her to develop and manufacture the device. It took four years of working with a product designer, but you can now get a Blo & Go for $19.99.
Coleman is a former model, mother of two and a onetime actress -- "Homeland Security," "Three Days of Rain." She gave her age as 50, but public records say she's 51. Are you sure you're 50, Mrs. Coleman? Is that your final answer? She clarifies: Just had a birthday. Make that 51.
In 2004, Coleman was pictured in this newspaper wearing a corset and garter -- and posing poutily in front of a four-poster bed -- all in the name of promoting her acting career. Coleman no longer is acting, she says, but "if something fun would come up, I'd pursue it."
Against the backdrop of this kind of marketing savvy, it is hard to believe that the name Blo & Go was not chosen to, at the very least, amuse. This, after all, is a world in which the term "wide stance" churns up easy chuckles.
Coleman's voice registers shock -- and dismay-- that anyone would make such a connection. "I didn't think of that," she says. And then she goes further to point out that the name wasn't even her idea. It came out of a committee. It was all in the brainstorming, during which "Freedom Styler" was rejected. And so it went: You get your hair blown out. You need a blowout. You get blown . . . out. And then you go. Bingo: "Blo & Go!"
Coleman's portable little device doesn't grip the nozzle of the blow-dryer; instead, it cradles the handle. It holds by suction to any flat surface such as a mirror. "I needed something of great quality that was really going to stay up," she says. "The whole key to this is the suction."
Coleman's Web site, http://www.bloandgo.com, went live this week and her infomercials have started running as well. She doesn't know how many Blo & Go's she's sold so far but "I know all my friends and family have bought them."
Including her husband, she says. "He's proud of me. He's happy as can be -- in fact, he's used it. Every once in a while, he gets out of the shower and uses it.
"Anything that helps the family and pays the bills is good."
Press secretary LeRoy Coleman (no relation) confirms that the senator is "indeed proud of his wife and proud of the product."
But after a little thought, he changed his mind about rounding up a quote from his boss -- thus depriving us of a public record of Sen. Norman Coleman (R-Minn.), up for reelection this year, commenting on a Blo & Go.