‘I just want people to feel beautiful’: Breast cancer survivor opens private wig salon for women
A breast cancer survivor in Fairfield is using her own experiences, both professionally and personally, to help other women going through treatment, creating a sanctuary for women to find high-quality wigs that make them look beautiful and feel like themselves.
Through the aisles of Vitalife's Beauty Outlet on Route 46, and past the cuts and coloring at the Avenue Salon in the back, you walk into a sanctuary of sorts: a small, purple painted room filled with uplifting quotes and a sense of security and serenity.
"We're here at to Serenity Wig Design in Fairfield, New Jersey, and it's my private wig salon to help women and men, who for health reasons or otherwise, may need a wig,” says owner Susan Lupo.
After 40 years as a hairdresser, and 15 years after surviving breast cancer, Lupo is living her dream of opening that private wig salon, helping others going through what for many is the most difficult time of their life.
"I do everything I can to let them know it's OK,” says Lupo. “I've seen this before. We're going to be alright."
Lupo lost her mother to breast cancer in 2004, about a year before her own diagnosis. She never lost her own hair, but remembers her mom's emotional struggle when she needed a wig.
"The thought of losing all your hair, it's part of your life, your personality,” says Lupo. “It's who you are. It's very scary. I knew so many people who were frightened, and you need someone."
Now, that someone is her. Lupo opened Serenity Wig Design in July during the coronavirus pandemic, refusing to let COVID-19 keep her from providing the space, support, and a service so many women need.
“When they enter here, I want them to feel like they can take a breath and trust me,” says Lupo.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, just months after opening, Lupo is also putting energy toward awareness, early detection and fundraising. It’s an important push from someone who says early detection saved her life, and a mother of two grown daughters doing her best to make sure other breast cancer patients know they are beautiful inside and out, wig or not.
"Look in mirror, take hat off, there's no hair, doesn't matter, and I just want people to feel beautiful,” says Lupo.
Wigs can cost anywhere from a $100 to a couple thousand. Lupo is working toward accepting insurance at her salon.