A mother-daughter hair loss journey.
My daughter Carli lost over 50 percent of her hair due to alopecia areata when she was 9 (she is now 27) and I wanted to help her. It was something that not only was hard for it affected the whole family. I began looking for solutions and that is when I pursued I also became interested in after I saw a lot of clients wearing a hair system. I wondered what I could do before they got to that point. Trichology is the scientific study of hair and scalp, and is becoming a very popular study in the cosmetology industry. Trichology is a certification that a student receives after a lot of money and time of study. I was used to fixing anything and I couldn’t help Carli. It was unbearable at times to watch my child withdraw and try to become invisible because of the teasing she would get. And this wasn’t just from mean classmates – it was adults too. The top of her hair would fall out and then grow back, it was a vicious cycle. I will never forget the time while she was in middle school and I took her to get her ears pierced. She and I picked out a cute pair of pink stone earrings hoping that it would stop people from thinking she was a boy since her hair was very short. After she got them pierced we went to show her Grammy at work. Carli was so proud to show her. Then this man came up and mistook her for a boy. You expect that sort of thing when they are babies, sometimes it’s hard to tell, but here she was with her cute PINK earrings and someone just assumed she was a boy because of her hair.
My heart broke for her; she didn’t fit in with any of the other girls at school. They all had long beautiful hair and hung out in their clicks. I was happy that she became her own person and didn’t follow the pack, but it wasn’t easy for either of us at the time. I had to apply for a special exception from her school so she could wear hats. She would always wear a cute beanie. Thank goodness they were popular and I could find cute girl ones at the Gap. After she began to wear big baggy sweatshirts and baggy jeans. It became hard to tell if she was a girl or boy. It was her way of hiding. We were at Target one day and she went to the rest room. When she found me, she was in tears. I looked into those big blue teary eyes and asked her what was wrong and she proceeded to tell me a woman stopped her before entering the and said, “Young man, the men’s is over there this is the lady’s rest room.” She told her, “I am a lady.” I was proud of her for speaking up. It was a good thing I wasn’t with her because I am afraid I would have not been nice. Yeah, didn’t when it’s your child and this keeps hard not to get defensive.
I became very involved with NAAF, The National Alopecia Areata Foundation. I raised money having 5K runs two years in a row. Both were very successful and were during September, which is the alopecia awareness month. We had great coverage from the press and TV. I was a mom on a mission. I was also involved as a support person answering phone calls that would come into NAAF from people looking for help. When mothers would call in I could hear the pain in their voice as they described what their child was going through. Every story was different, but the same. It didn’t matter if it was a boy or a girl it was just as hard on the child and their families.
Because of Carli’s alopecia, I became a hair replacement specialist. NAAF has strict rules and I didn’t there to be a conflict of interest so I had to stop volunteering for them. When I became a hair replacement specialist Trichology was and is becoming a very popular study in the cosmetology industry. I still wanted to keep learning and my hunger for education found . It was the beginning of the quest for training; there weren’t many online schools to choose from at the time. My first few experiences trying to find training were pretty I gave up for a while. Another year passed and I started to look again. This time I had a few more choices, one was London, would I like to move to London for two years and ? You bet I would but the reality was I needed to do an online class an
I opened my hair salon in 1995. Right before my grand opening, I discovered patches of hair falling out of my scalp. I thought it was the stress of being in a new environment, new country or from opening my first business. One month later I experienced many more bald patches and Eventually was diagnosed with a devastating condition called Alopecia Universalis. I thought, “How could this be happening to someone who has trained for a lifetime with experts like Vidal Sassoon to make people feel beautiful and confident about their own hair?”
I clearly couldn’t stop being a stylist because of this condition, so I hid under hats. I wore some terrible looking wigs and most of the time, wore wigs under my hats in the hot summer climate of southern California. I had to do something!
So I put my German and Vidal Sassoon education to work and made my own first wig. I didn’t want my regular clients to discover THE BEAUTY of Experience my secret. I was afraid that they might think my hair loss could be contagious. Soon, dermatologists and oncologists were referring their patients to me. So I designed a back room with a curtain, where they would feel comfortable baring their bald or patchy scalp to me. They appreciated it, but it did have a feeling of a dark back room where they needed to be hidden.
I replaced the curtain with light sheer blinds that offered both privacy and significant natural light. The mood was much less heavy and clients thoroughly appreciated the thoughtful and discreet options I offered. But I wanted to do even more for them. I finally bit the bullet in 2008. I expanded the business by creating my own salon addition under the same roof and with the same open style as my regular salon, with its own private entrance for my hair loss clients. They were able to comfortably browse the various hairpiece lengths, colors, styles and try them on that appealed to them. Here they would also be taught how to maintain these beautiful pieces, all within a normal natural light salon setting. They loved it! My business has grown significantly since then and I often hear how comfortable my clients from all over the world feel coming into the salon, when the sheer act of arriving used to carry stigma and worry. I hope as you grow your hair loss practice, you too will discover the benefits of investment in this kind of compassionate attention to detail for this growing, under-served and deserving population of men and women.