Charlotte gathering truly was a good time had by all

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photographs from the AHLC’s HairNow22 Conference will be published throughout the website in various stories and in various galleries. Shortly, all 900-plus photographs will be available for viewing.

By Kelly Carson

They came from around the globe. They came by the hundreds — more than 450 actually — to gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the American Hair Loss Council’s Hair Now 2022 conference and trade show.

“This is just great. It shows the demand for these types of gatherings,” said Nazy Curtis, the founder of Amani Hair in Newport Beach, California. “After COVID, we need this.”

Amani Hair is a provider of natural hair wigs and volume hair pieces.

Roberto Gonzales of Hair Visions International

For former diplomat and television journalist turned hair restoration sales manager Roberto Gonzales of Hair Visions International, the annual gathering of AHLC members is more like prom season.

“Everything that we’ve done and that we have is here — this is our prom day,” Gonzales said. “This (conference) is the summit of the summit.”

Hair Visions is an international supplier to the hair restoration industry.

Gonzales said hair restoration is finding its place in the industry because “it’s a need, not an accessory.”

He said that while there were times when wigs and hair pieces were optional, “today, it is a way of living.”

“It brings you back to yourself,” he said.

A false fire alarm caused the venue to evacuate the convention floor. That brief interruption during Saturday night’s barbecue did little to dampen the spirit of attendees.

“This is like a family reunion,” said Shonda King, whose Gifted Creations Salon and Gifted Creations Restoration Hair Loss Clinic are based in Georgia.

Meeting friends and networking, discussing the latest trends. It all happened at the AHLC’s HairNow2022 Conference.

New member Cindy French of Cindy French Hair Solutions in North Miami Beach, Florida, said attending the conference helps build her confidence as a certified trichologist, certified hair colorist and hair replacement specialist.

“I am so glad I joined AHLC and decided to come to the conference,” she said. “This is great.”

On the second and third full day of the conference, classes were the order of the day.

Jodie Vanderhoof, U.S. director of Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories, says coming to the annual conference is a must for her business.

“We’re always here,” Vanderhoof said of the conference. “We have a distinct clientele so we come for the education components.”

Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories, also known as CRLab, hosted classes on maintaining a healthy and balanced scalp and how trichology treatments can lead the way. Mirko Buetto, CRLab’s research and development manager for polymeric membrane and cosmetic products development, conducted the classes. CRLab was part of the Super Saturday marathon demonstrations.

friends share a laugh during a break in the conference action.

Founded in 1968, CRLabs weathered the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed because all its products are made in the company’s factory in Bologna, Italy. Its supply chain also carried on unbroken, Vanderhoof said.

New to the conference as a vendor was Celluma Light Therapy by BioPhotas Inc., a company that has been in the pain management and aesthetics industries for years. Travis Fry, Celluma’s global trade show manager demonstrated the company’s three-mode Celluma Restore device, a red light LLLT therapy device cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

The company’s patented device is designed to deliver light energy and prompt hair regrowth through customized placement.

Carly Klein, the founder of the National Hair Loss Medical Association, said her group teaches hair loss professionals to treat the cause of hair loss, not just conceal hair loss. 

“We have multiple courses, from beginners to masters and oncologists” to help treat clients suffering from a multitude of hair loss conditions. Medical professionals train hair professionals in how to test follicles and develop appropriate treatment plans.

Lisa Hunter of Evolutions Too in Indiana, Pennsylvania, focused her attention on a presentation discussing trichotillomania, a compulsive desire to pull out one’s hair. 

“The presenters were really knowledgeable from a client’s perspective,” Hunter said. “It’s good to hear how we, as stylists, should treat clients and not be condescending.”

New friends, old friends, and folks just passing by. Everyone seemed to have a good time at the conference.

Throughout the conference, one word kept coming to the top of conversations — community.

“I’ve been in sales for 20-plus years and I have never been able to see something that has such a purpose,” said Kim Flores, vice president of sales with the Carlsbad, California-based Jon Renau. “We are able to provide something that puts a smile on someone’s face.”

As a vendor to hair replacement salons and boutiques, Flores said the family-owned Jon Renau is excited to work alongside other suppliers because “competition is fun, but we … are all people helping other people.”

“We are all in unity and I believe there is plenty of room at the top for all of us,” Flores said. “We are all here for one purpose, and that is to help people.”