From Spa to Wig Boutique

by Kendall Fuqua, Beyond Basics Wigs; Wilmington, North Carolina

They say we all are meant for something in life and for some it may take a little longer to figure it out than for others. This was not my case.

Wig BoutiqueDuring a break from attending college, a stylist friend recommended I go to hair school. He said “Men make a lot of money doing hair.” From the looks of his lifestyle I believed him so I signed up at a local beauty school. As I had heard from many stylists, school was not the most enjoyable part of my hair career, however I loved the creativity of working with hair as well as the people I was meeting.

I was invited to work with Sebastian International as an educator, after my first year of working in a salon, and I knew I had hit the big time. Here I was, a new stylist working with what was considered the best, most creative design team in the world. I quickly built a clientele in the salon and I was traveling almost every weekend to teach the Sebastian ways of hair. After four years in that first salon, while managing it for three of them, I decided to open my own salon. I opened the first salon and spa in Wilmington, NC. Seven out of eight stylists in my salon were educators for major product lines. No one in town had that kind of staff and I was ecstatic. But then, within the first six months, I was diagnosed with a rare muscle disease and was told I would never be able to work. I had grown up doing without and decided that would not be the way I would live my adulthood. In other words, I ignored the doctors.

After owning my salon for a year and traveling almost every weekend, I thought it was time to take a break from the road. That lasted about two years! I signed on with Fromm International in order to help them build their education/show team. I was back on the road and loving it because I was front-and-center at all the shows. I was able to see what was new and what was next.

While working a Long Beach show, I had my first introduction to a hairpiece company and I was quite intrigued. However, there were other things going on at home and it wasn’t the right time for me to offer new services. I had purchased property and was planning to build my 3200 square foot, present-day freestanding building and convert a 2300 square foot garage space into a spa. I thought, go big or go home; or maybe it was get yourself in the middle and work your way out of it. Either way, it was and has been a good move in purchasing the real estate and I recommend that to any owner when possible.

After being in business for 22 years, I decided it was time to seek some business consulting in the way of making sure I was doing things the right way. I recommend doing that before you’ve been in the business 22 years also by the way!

I revisited the idea of retailing hairpieces. No one else that I knew was doing them. Not like the way I wanted to do them by any means. We experienced big success with very nice numbers the first yea, right out of the gate. The revenue and profit was unbelievable in comparison to what you normally think of making in a salon. I was very happy with my additional income and I was hitting a market that I didn’t even know existed and/ or didn’t know how to help. That was going to change. Women have hair loss issues and I now had a beautiful solution with hairpieces and many options to help them.

I became comfortable customizing hairpieces prior because one of my friends had been a member of a hair club for years. He would go the hair loss center to have the technician apply his new hairpiece and then he would return for me to cut and style his new addition. Those were some nervous times for me in the earlier years but, little did I know, I was being prepared for my future in hair loss solutions.

One of 4 private, spa-like suites

After working with hairpieces for a year, my life partner and cancer survivor said I should help women with their hair needs while on their journey with cancer. My first response was no. I told him I had no idea how to work with wigs. He looked at me and said, “Treat it likes it’s hair. You know how to cut, color and style hair to make it look good.” I said ok. I’ve always said that it’s not how you look; it’s how you feel about how you look. No words could ever be true when working with women with hair loss of any kind. I thought that if I started with human hair wigs, my life would be easier too because that, after all, is what I do every day. Thank goodness for tutorials and drag queens. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years of what to do and what not to do. I suggest attending as many hair loss solution classes as possible. Mistakes with human hair can get expensive and most can be avoided.

Back to me jumping in the middle and working my way of it; I finally attended my first wig class four years in it to see what I had been doing wrong up. After attending my first wig certification class, I was hooked. I came home and gave my spa staff a threemonth notice. I let them know that I would be closing my spa and opening an alternative hair boutique in its space. There were only two people that were huge supporters of this decision, my partner and my business coach. Their reason they were in favor was that my numbers in alternative hair sales were awesome even though I had just been working with clients out of my salon and one room in my spa. It was at this point I jumped in and it was with both feet, not just a toe. Imagine what happens when we go all in. I have always heard and say it quite often that timing has to be right. Timing will never be right until you make it right. Make your time right now!

After the spa staff members each found new places to work, it was time to renovate. Once again I pulled out a piece of white copy paper to draw my plan as I had done ten years prior, when I designed the salon and spa. I first drew the spa building out as it was currently. Then it was time to erase walls and redesign a new layout for the building to become Beyond Basics Wigs. The builder that had done the original work came back in and removed walls, electric wires, and a few other additions that would not be needed for the boutique. I did leave the shower – you never know. I created four private suites, a storage/work room, a rest room and a large showroom floor for the displays. I recycled most of the decor from the spa and salvaged some round tables to use in the boutique but I did buy some new art. The best part was that it definitely kept the peaceful feeling that the spa had but gave the space a renewed spirit and purpose, a purpose that I was now going to help women with their hair loss.

My journey in the hair restoration business has really just begun. I am excited about the prospect of what is to come. I recently joined the AHLC. After receiving my first Link magazine I was overwhelmed at the amount of knowledge and information that was in that first issue alone. I have new resources and can continue to educate my staff. Inspiration, motivation and education do and will change you and those you serve. I’m looking forward to the relationships that I know will make me a better person, better at what I do as well as enhance my business in the field of hair loss.