When Wear Hair for You owner Laura Waites thinks back on her clients over the last 21 years, one immediately comes to mind.
Seven years ago, a woman walked into her Vienna wig store almost completely bald. Waites asked her why she decided to buy a wig.
The woman, Waites says, answered that she “was at a church event and a little girl said, ‘Mommy, why doesn’t that woman have any hair? She looks like a man.’”
Waites selected a strawberry blonde, shoulder-length wig for her customer. She turned the woman from the mirror and placed the wig on her head, adjusting it to achieve the perfect fit. Waites turned the woman back to the mirror and admired her work.
“It was an outstanding wig. It looked so natural on her,” Waites says. “She stared for a minute, and then broke down and cried.”
“I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ She goes, ‘I haven’t had hair for 17 years.’” Waites pauses. “That’s a story I’ll never forget.”
The moment reminded Waites that her business, which provides synthetic and human hair wigs for men, women, and children, isn’t just about physical appearance. Her wigs take on a life of their own, instilling confidence in people and helping them feel like themselves again.
It’s a feeling she’s more than familiar with. Waites began wearing a wig at age 15, having lost her hair due to severe eczema on her neck and scalp.
“I do know what it’s like to not have your own hair and to be insecure.”
As Waites got older, she says she started to embrace wigs and the ability to change her hair color or style on a whim.
“After a while, it’s time to shake things up again. I don’t want to be boring and keep it the same,” she says.
But the more wigs Waites purchased, the more disappointed she grew with the quality. Waites says she knew it was time for a change in the industry and began researching wig construction.
In 2001, Waites opened Wear Hair for You, offering realistic wigs with invisible hairlines. Waites says most of her clients have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. Alopecia, surgical complications, stress, and COVID have also led to her clients’ hair loss.
She says clients sometimes feel reluctant and overwhelmed but from the moment they walk through the door, Waites reads their demeanor and jumps into action to ease their worries.
“I’ve just learned that hair is so important to so many people. I don’t take this job lightly. I take it very seriously and work very hard at it,” she says.
Waites is also a certified medical hair loss practitioner and is trained to work in hospitals with immunocompromised patients. Hers is the only shop in the area that will go to local hospitals and provide wigs, Waites says.
“The way I’ve done this business is different from your typical wig store. My background is way more than just a businesswoman.”
She has taught wig classes at the Virginia Hospital Center and Inova Life with Cancer for eight years, educating people on the difference in hair fibers and what questions to ask before buying a wig.
Bringing quality wigs to hospitals is the future of the industry, Waites says. She hopes to franchise Wear Hair For You and train others to be certified medical hair loss practitioners.
Waites says that after more than two decades in this job, she is still “amazed” by how transformative wigs can be. She says she hopes the industry continues evolving to serve more people. And Waites is certain she’ll be there to help.
“I never rest on my laurels. There’s always something else to do. There’s always a better way to do things.” 2539 Chain Bridge Rd., Vienna
Feature image courtesy Laura Waites
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