'Come here and feel comfortable.' Female-led Hanna Wigs helps women facing hair loss
On East 59th Street in midtown Manhattan, a generational business stands strong.
Founded by a South Korean immigrant, Hanna Wigs has been a neighborhood store since 1971. Half a century later, the founder's niece, Gina Kwon, now runs it.
The female-founded and female-led store does more than just sell wigs – it helps people, mainly women, who are losing hair through ailments such as cancer and alopecia.
“I try to help them to face their reality at this moment, not like ‘how I used to look like’ or ‘how I was before’,” explained Kwon. “In that way, I'm really proud of what I'm doing.”
Kwon says that it can be hard for people to adjust to their new appearance, but that the shop’s mission is to make customers look and feel their best. After all, Kwon correlates finding the right wig as finding a part of your identity. She says in addition to those losing hair, she also sees a range of customers, including those who are transitioning or transgender.
“I want them to come here and feel comfortable – at that moment that they can be comfortable and be what they want to be,” expressed Kwon. “If I can help them be pretty, then it’s a great honor for me.”
The East Midtown Partnership – a business improvement district that roughly spans 48 blocks of east midtown – says supporting small businesses is one of its missions.
“The reality is when you walk on the side streets, when you're paying attention, when you're out of your patterns, you see that actually we’re an incredible cross-section of New York – with women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, independent food businesses, with incredibly historic businesses and generational business,” said Hornung, director of marketing at the East Midtown Partnership.
Hanna Wigs is open daily except Sundays, and is by appointment only.