Champaign headband designer making charity fashionable

CHAMPAIGN — She started a trend and a business in high school creating colorful headbands, but the best part of Gina Hinders’ story centers on her heart and how she is making charity fashionable.

“I decided from the get-go I would do it for charity,” said Gina, who made good on that pledge last month by donating the first $900 of profit from her headband business to Catholic Charities of Champaign. The funds will be used to buy gift cards for birthmothers in the adoption program.

The “get-go” was last fall, when Gina began offering for sale the headbands she had been crafting and wearing since her freshman year. The fashion trend was catching on among her friends, so Regina created a Facebook site — “Regina Hinders Headbands” — to display her latest designs and invite purchases.

“A lot have been sold to classmates, but sometimes orders come from people in the area,” she said of the plastic headbands, which Gina wraps with ribbon or cloth and tops with jeweled flowers or other decorations. In addition to headbands, the site also offers other hair accessories such as decorative clips and barrettes.

That Gina would decide to help others with her time and profit continues a trend of giving the energetic young woman had already established in her high school years. She was a student volunteer for three summers at Carle Hospital, volunteered at an elderly day care for a week during Catholic Heart Work Camp in 2008, and for three years coordinated her school’s Empty Bowl Fundraiser to feed hungry people in the Champaign area.

A four-year member of the varsity basketball team, she received the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award in 2009 and was named the girl’s recipient of her school’s highest honor — the St. Thomas More Award — this spring. In an unusual family twist, her first cousin Paul Perona earned a similar honor this spring at St. Bede Academy in Peru, where he was named Senior of the Year.

The middle child of five born to Kevin and Mary Hinders — members of St. Matthew’s Parish — Gina said it was her mother who suggested Catholic Charities as the beneficiary of her business success.

“I knew they were a solid Catholic organization which supported pro-life efforts in our community,” Mary Hinders told The Catholic Post. Mrs. Hinders was aware that Renee Eifert, a social worker with Catholic Charities, is “doing wonderful things for birth moms.”

The Hinders family actively supports the pro-life movement. They have participated in the national March for Life and prayed at Planned Parenthood in Champaign. Mrs. Hinders sees Gina’s support of Catholic Charities as “an extension of our pro-life effort.”

Her sisters Maria, Christiana, and Julia model the headbands for Gina’s Facebook site. Some of the costume jewels she incorporates formerly belonged to her great-grandmother. Gina said family members and friends have offered to help manufacture the hair accessories — which can take an hour or more of labor each — but the charitable entrepreneur admits she’s a “control freak” about their creation.

She continues to improve her craft and says the designs are getting more extravagant. “I’ve started to make them with feathers,” said Gina.

This fall, Gina will continue making the headbands from her room at Newman Hall at the University of Illinois. “I’ll probably get a good response there,” she said, already looking ahead. While art is a hobby, she has yet to decide on a college major, leaning toward pre-med with a Spanish minor.

Meanwhile, word about her business is spreading in other ways. She was featured on a WCIA-TV “Kid to Know” segment on June 15.

Gina has long hair, but says the headbands complement any hair length. They sell for $10, while clips and barrettes are $5 to $7. She will create custom designs or duplicate existing ones shown on her Facebook site, which contains contact and ordering information.

Gina wears her products often, but doesn’t offer them all for sale. “Sometimes they’re just too cute to give away,” she said.

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