Success Story

  • Charlee Murdock (right) poses with William Andahazy at a Penn State College of Engineering Learning Factory showcase event.

Veteran launches haircare startup with support from Hazleton LaunchBox supported by Pasco L. Schiavo, Esq.

HAZLETON, PA – Charlee Murdock, a veteran, Hazleton area community member, and a single mother of three, has taken her experience in the beauty field and added a philanthropic twist to create her startup: Project Headway LLC. Project Headway is a salon located in Weatherly, Pennsylvania that offers low-cost haircuts to people in need. Murdock’s life experiences inspired her to lend a helping hand. 

“During COVID, I realized that there were going to be a lot of people who were going to be looking for jobs, a lot of people in need,” Murdock said. “I’ve struggled a lot in my life, and I thought of people who had even less than me and wanted to help them. I think everyone should have nice hair.” 

Murdock is not only providing hair services, but she is also planning on releasing salon-grade products. Murdock aims to use the profits from her invention to support the philanthropic aspect of her startup. 

“One of the main goals of Project Headway is to create products by hairstylists for hairstylists,” said Murdock. “Our first product is a foil cutting machine. We’re working with Bucknell University and Penn State to get that built.” 

When she first had the idea to launch her startup, Murdock was directed to William Andahazy, the entrepreneurship education coordinator at Hazleton LaunchBox supported by Pasco L. Schiavo, Esq. According to Murdock, the LaunchBox has been a big part of her entrepreneurial journey. When Murdock first met Andahazy, her vision for Project Headway was slightly different. 

“I just wanted to give people free color services so they could go to job interviews,” Murdock said. “William said, ‘Well that’s great, but how are you going to pay for it?’ And that’s how the salon came to be. The LaunchBox helped me get my LLC and a sponsorship project with the Learning Factory. That got us started with the cutting mechanism. The LaunchBox took what was an idea and turned it into something you can touch.” 

Andahazy has worked closely with Murdock for over two years, watching Project Headway grow from an idea into a startup with great potential. 

Since that first meeting, it has been a pleasure watching her develop her entrepreneurial mindset and grow from a person with an idea to one who thinks like a business owner,” said Andahazy. “She has always kept pushing this project forward, even when large hurdles got in her way.” 

Murdock is currently working to raise capital for her startup, with the help of the LaunchBox. 

“We’re hoping to get into the tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition next year, but for now we’re looking for investors and grant money,” said Murdock. “We’re in the beginning stages of something that I think will be very big in the future.” 

For Murdock, starting Project Headway has provided her with newfound skills and self-confidence. She encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the LaunchBox & Innovation Network. 

“I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve,” said Murdock. “Hazleton is a city built on small businesses, and the LaunchBox is such an asset to them. I would advise people to surround themselves with mentors and a network with business-savvy people that can help you. You are the company you keep.”  

About Invent Penn State  

Invent Penn State is a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind. 

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.