Monika McMahon goes to a lot of concerts -- hundreds each year, by her estimation. And although she doesn't remember the specific show she first put in ear plugs, she remembers the last show she didn't. It was a Bad Religion show at the Fillmore which caused her ears to ring for a week after. "That was it, it was right before SXSW and I was done, that was just miserable," she said. So, her love for earplugs was born, out of comfort, out of necessity.
Three years later, she and her mother Lisa Runstrom have developed Noiselace -- necklace that have a pair of earplugs built in -- and built a small business selling them.
Hearing depends on delicate hair cells in the inner ear that transmit the energy from sound picked up by the outer ear to the brain. Rock concerts can generate around 100 to 120 decibels decibels, and a blast of noise over 110 db for two minutes can hurt your ears immediately.
Free earplugs, like Monika first used, are hard to remember and easy to lose, however. So, the mother-daughter team started working on a solution. "I fashioned a kind of similar thing, just by tying it together, took a photo and sent it to [my mom] and said 'can you make something that looks prettier for me, add some beads, just make it look more like a necklace?,'" and Runstrom, who loves crafting and beading, ran with it.
The Noiselace (pronounced noise-less, like necklace) comes in different sizes, for both male and female necks. The beaded strand fits around your neck and attaches in the front with a magnet. When unhooked, the two high-end ear plugs at each end of the strand come free.
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"We bought a bunch of different kinds [of earplugs] on Amazon and kind of played around for awhile. We needed something that was good earplug-wise, but that would also work for what we are doing," McMahon says. "These are some of the better options on the market in general." According to McMahon, the foam earplugs only block out certain high or low frequencies, but the plugs used in Noiselace just mellow out everything rather than affecting the overall experience of a show.
The duo has gotten some traction in Colorado partly thanks to its ties to the music scene, but a few big-name out-of-towners have expressed interest as well. McMahon sold a pair of Noiselace to Kevin Lyman, director of Warped Tour at the festival, and they have been talking to different local Colorado venues about getting them sold at merchandise booths for easier fan access.
McMahon's brother Stefan Runstrom, formerly of Tickle Me Pink and currently with Wiredogs, sports them at every gig he plays. "When people see them looking cool on musicians on stage, it helps a lot," Lisa Runstrom says, joking that she isn't about to start any fashion trends herself.