Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Vicki McIntyre and Clara Valencia show off wigs at Clara's Corner, located inside Nu-Dawn Salon on Stockbridge Road, in Jonesboro.
With almost five years of remission behind her, Clara Valencia can laugh about being more concerned about hair loss than breast cancer.
"I didn't care about the cancer, I just wanted my hair," said Valencia, chuckling. "I know that is silly."
Valencia, a hairstylist who works at Nu-Dawn, a Jonesboro salon owned her daughter, Vicki McIntyre, was devastated the toll the treatment took on her looks. The chemotherapy left piles of hair on her pillow, and patches of wisps, on her scalp.
"I came in the shop one day and my daughter shaved off what little I had left," she said. "I just started crying. I did not want to be bald."
It was that experience that inspired McIntyre to create Clara's Corner, a portion of the salon dedicated to the sale and fitting of wigs, especially for cancer victims.
In recognition of the annual American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, McIntyre is offering a $99 wig sale that includes fitting and styling.
"That includes all the styles we carry," she said. "We may lose some money on them, but that's not what is important."
McIntyre opened the shop in 1993, and has expanded from cutting and coloring, to massage therapy and facials, but one constant remains –– her dedication to her customers. In addition to her mother, McIntyre also was inspired the experiences of another client with cancer.
"She told us she'd looked for wigs everywhere, and was treated so rudely at one place," said McIntyre. "She found no compassion and that's not right. People with cancer are fragile, they need prayer, they need compassion, and care."
Realizing there was a need she could provide, McIntyre created Clara's Corner. Customers, all of whom have been women, can pick a wig style from a catalogue, a hair shade from a sample swatch, and in a week or so, have an attractive alternative to wispy baldness.
McIntyre, 50, said wigs have come a long way from the days they were uncomfortable to wear, not to mention obvious.
"Today's wigs are so light and airy," she said. "You don't even feel like you are wearing a wig. And the styles are flattering. When you buy a wig from me, I will cut it to fit your face shape, so no one even knows you are wearing a wig."
With Valencia working in the shop, cancer patients can also talk to her about her own experiences.
"She can tell them what she went through," said McIntyre. "We've had a very good reception to the wigs, the customers are excited about us carrying them."
Cancer patients should come in and order a wig before they start treatment, to avoid the trauma of losing their hair, and then trying to conduct a fitting, Valencia said. But wigs have uses beyond covering up a bald head.
"They are nice to have even after surgery," said Valencia. "You can use them on vacation, or if you go into the hospital, and don't want to worry about your hair. For what you pay for them, it's worth it."
The salon has a web site, www.nudawnbeautysalon.com, and will be a link on the American Cancer Society's web site soon, to make it easier for patients needing a wig to find the shop.
McIntyre will hold an open house to show off the wig line and take orders Monday, May 23, from 2 p.m., to 7 p.m. The salon, at 242 Stockbridge Road, is closed for other business that day, so McIntyre can focus solely on wig customers.
Call McIntyre, at (770) 471-8550, for more information.