Tell us about your background. When did your passion for health and beauty begin?
I have genuinely always wanted to be a hairdresser. My aunt was a hairdresser and I just wanted to be like her, so I started as helping at my local salon on Saturdays when I was just 13. I left school and studied for two years to be an engineer, but my heart was never in it, so I went back to what I loved most and pursued a career in hairdressing. I trained in some of the North East’s best salons, before opening my own almost 20 years ago.
How did the idea for the Wonderful Wig Company come about?
In 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 36. During my illness, I saw other women losing their hair so I began to look at what hair loss solutions were on offer, and I was disappointed. The wigs were outdated, poor quality, and a lot of the services were impersonal, selling wigs like a pair of trainers. I sat in the hospital and had a bit of an epiphany – I thought: ‘there must be something better’. I began researching everything about wigs, and trained in professional hair loss solutions all over the UK and Europe. My research gave me a newfound purpose throughout my illness, so I decided to incorporate a hair loss service into my salon – and the Wonderful Wig Company was born.
How did your own experience influence what is on offer at the Wonderful Wig Company?
I wanted to provide a turn-key solution which could be tailored to each individual client. So we built the brand with our clients at the heart of every decision – to enhance their experience as much as possible. Whether clients need a home visit or a visit in hospital, we work extra hard to accommodate their needs – the actual wig is only a small part of our service.
What services do you provide?
At our two salons in Sunderland and Jesmond, we provide customisable wigs, hair integration systems, extensions, scarfs and turbans – and support and advice. We now have the largest selection of human hair in the North East. We also work with the NHS and local trusts to offer solutions for medical hair loss, meaning that if you lose your hair through chemotherapy, alopecia or medical hair loss, you will be provided with a voucher from the NHS which can then be used to put towards the cost of a wig or hairpiece at either salon.
What is the Wonderful Wig Company’s mantra?
To be there for everyone’s hair needs, especially the difficult ones. We want to become the best hair-loss experts in the North East and beyond, offering an ever-improving service that makes each and every client feel valued.
What can customers expect when they walk into your salons?
A dedicated appointment time, fantastic customer service, discretion and complete privacy, easy booking and home or hospital visits if necessary. Our service is empathetic and we offer aftercare advice so that all of our clients can leave in full confidence knowing that they going to be cared for and supported along their hair loss process. You can also enjoy fresh coffee and canapés!
In your opinion, why is hair so important to people?
Your hair is such a huge part of your identity, so loosing it can take a huge toll on your overall wellbeing. We want to create an environment where no one bats an eyelid at somebody with hair loss – a sanctuary where you can feel comfortable with and without hair. In January we will be working with Newcastle University to study and prove the effects of hair loss on wellbeing. It’s so important that this is taken seriously and we can’t wait to get underway.
You’ve won countless awards in the past two years... What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Probably when I opened the email to find out I’d won my first tender at the NHS and was going to be an NHS supplier. I’d worked so hard for months on writing my tender and it was all so new to me, so that was a very emotional day. The second was when I received a gold standard award from The Little Princess Trust for the work we do with their amazing children and young adults. There are only 12 salons in the world with this award, so I was pretty humbled.
What’s been the most challenging moment?
I guess it’s obvious. We often work with some very poorly people and sometimes it can be very close to home, especially if it’s at a time where I'm waiting on test results for myself. I think the balance between helping people, but not taking all the emotional strain home with you every day, is the biggest challenge for both me and the team.
What do you enjoy doing the most when you’re not in the salon?
I enjoy exploring the lovely North East coastline or just generally hanging out with my 10 year old son Gabriel.
Who or what is your greatest love?
I would have to say my husband Stephen, right? Or Dairy Milk.
When did you last lie?
Last Friday. I told Steve I was busy but I was really having a power nap on the sofa.
What is your greatest fear?
Moths. They just completely freak me out.
What’s your favourite thing to do in the North East?
Climbing Penshaw Monument on a clear, crisp day, or watching the waves crash in to the promenade at Seaburn when the tide is in.
If you could have a night out with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you take them?
My grandad who sadly passed away 25 years ago. I’d take him for a curry with my family so that Gabriel could meet him and listen to his stories. He was so interesting and funny. I’d just love another evening with him.
Tipple of choice?
I’m yet to find a red wine that I don’t like, but at the minute I have a thing for dark rum and coke.
What song gets you on the dancefloor?
Proud Mary by Tina Turner or anything by Queen. I love to dance so it doesn’t take much at all!
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to a budding entrepreneur, what would it be?
Find a mentor or mentorship programme. I'm on the Natwest accelerator programme, and it has given me clarity and focus on the business.
Nicola is currently looking for someone to be the Face of The Wonderful Wig Company for 2020. The winner will receive four wigs, worth up to £8,000 as well as the opportunity to work with the award-winning business across the country. Visit www.wonderfulwigs.co.uk/competition/ to find out more.
The Wonderful Wig Company
34 Melbourne Place, Sunderland SR4 8LN
0191 528 3925