Big wigs in the hair business

A Table View business is the go-to place for anyone looking for a good wig, but most of its customers are women who have suffered hair loss from chemotherapy or illness.

Fascinations Hair has been around for 45 years, promoting itself largely through word of mouth, according to manager Margaux Randall.

“You don’t really advertise that this is where you go when you get cancer and your hair is about to fall out, but when people talk to people that are going through the cancer ordeal, they will always mention this place ‘that does wigs’.”

Although most of Fascinations Hair’s clientele are women battling illness, they also cater for those whose hair is thinning as well as business women with busy lifestyles.

John Reynolds started the business in a small Goodwood pharmacy. Back in the 1960s, wigs were in fashion, and he stocked a few.

“He soon realised he was making more money from the wigs than the medication. It became the go-to place for wigs,” says Ms Randall.

Seeing the gap in the market Mr Reynolds ditched the pharmacy and invested in buying and selling wigs. In 1984, he emigrated to California with his wife, Stella, and children, Garron, Paul and Samantha, and started the company, Jon Renau, which manufactures wigs, hair extensions and hair pieces.

All Fascinations Hair’s products are supplied by Jon Renau, and although the Reynolds family have made a life in America, their roots remain in South Africa with their son, Garron, heading up Fascinations Hair.

From Goodwood, the business moved to Epping Industrial then to Paarden Eiland. Recently it relocated to Blaauwberg Road, in Table View.

Garron Reynolds, who also founded the Frika hair brand, says employees seldom leave the hair industry because they enjoy what they do.

“You have the chance to play fairy godmother. You help to change the way people feel about themselves, and that’s a great feeling.”

Jeanette Cloete, a consultant at Fascinations Hair, says it takes a special kind of person to deal with the women who walk through their doors. She says losing hair can be a traumatic experience, and women need to feel compassion and warmth when they come looking for a wig.

“Hair is confidence, and a lot of these women are really down when they come to us. They need to know they are in a safe place where no one is looking at them funny.”

To help clients find the “perfect fit”, she spends between 45 minutes to an hour helping them choose the right wig.

“Synthetic wigs are better for chemo patients. It’s low maintenance; you don’t apply heat to it. You just wash it in cool water and allow it to dry. It’s perfect for women who don’t feel well and don’t want to spend so much time on hair.”

Nadia Rajie, also a consultant, says wigs give women a sense of “normality”.

“One of our clients lost her home in the recent fire in Knysna, and she was upset about losing her wig because it gave her a sense of normality. We see women transformed on a daily basis. They might walk in with tears in their eyes but our job is to put a smile on their face.”

This special attention has seen the business gain scores of loyal customers over the years. Ms Randall says some of the clients even remember the pharmacy and have been following Fascinations Hair wherever it has gone.

One of its latest clients is Kelly Pearce, a local radio show producer who was diagnosed with alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.

“As much as it’s been a heart-breaking experience with alopecia, I found light in the fact that there is more to life than having to spend hours on my hair to look and feel beautiful. I found confidence again in helping others with the same condition as me. Then, last week, when I had my beautiful wig fitted, it gave me a sensation of ‘let’s play dress-up and have fun’ because while I do feel very confident now with my bald head and stand for what many can’t stand for, having these beautifully made wigs (with real human hair) gave me the fun factor to now play with.”

For more information about Fascinations Hair, find them on Facebook or call 021 511 5868.