I got into to the hair business shortly just a few years after the AHLC began in the USA. I started my business in England in the Summer of 1968.
· 1968: I started a retail shop. After meeting a woman with beautiful Dimples—I named my shop Dimples…
· Soon after I opened a 2nd, then a 3rd, then finally a 4th shop.
· At that time there was no custom made, it was all stock, there were few colors and few styles—you had to settle with what you could get
· In those days it was common for women to have 4 to 5 wigs in their closet for fashion.
· After a few years of price wars, wigs became a commodity. They were no long a luxury item. It became a joke to work with wigs. If someone asked me what I did, I didn’t tell them I was in the wig business, I told them I was in the beauty business, because I was embarrassed.
· shop—all human hair, only 4-5 styles of wigs and 3 or 4 top pieces—everything was machine made—very heavy base, very heavy density
· 1971 or 1972: I met (Andy) in Korea. Agent invited us for dinner. ???
· I wasn’t a hair dresser or stylist so I could not offer service with my wigs, so I didn’t have anything to differentiate myself with from the wig shops next door.
· There was a turning point in the industry. The wig business changed from a fashion solution to a medical solution.
· When this happened I went into the wholesale side.
· Around about this time the Japanese company—kanekafutche was making synthetic yarn for carpets—at this time they refined the fiber production to suit the production of synthetic wigs.
· Many factories started buying the fiber from Japan to make machine made synthetic wigs
· Synthetic hair was a breakthrough for the industry. We could take a wig out the box and it was already pre-styled and precut. The style would also last, unlike human hair. And, the color did not fade.
· Factories were in Korea
· Hair systems were a lot thicker bases, with heavy density, and they were made to last, programs, bonding, and custom made had not yet been introduced.
· In one of my journeys I met a top Swedish designer called Sture Austinson. He was a Swedish hair designer, living in Korea. He was married to the daughter of a very influential man from the Korean Government.
· My agent/good friend was looking after my interests. He was between me and the factory to make sure the quality comes right.
· Sture was a top designer for synthetic wigs. He was a pioneer. He came out with many style and color combinations that were ahead of the present times. He was one of the first to make rooted colored wigs. He was very passionate about this new idea, so we put them into production. But, they did not sell, as the public was not ready for this radical change. But then years later, his vision came through, today rooted colored wigs and top pieces are huge.
· I almost went into partnership with Sture and Chinese national—we were going partners to buy a wig factory from General Wigs. We had a good plan: I was to handle sales and distribution, Stury was the designer, and Chinese national was the production manager. But in the end Chinese national decided to buy the factory himself.
· We all went our separate ways
· As time went on wigs moved more and more to the medical side. Wig cap construction became a pivotal point. Monofilament top wigs started to become more popular (so that looks more natural for parting….)
· Hand Tied was being made, but they didn’t look like they do today, the knotting was not as advanced as today. They were knotting several hairs in one knot….
· The cap construction has also changed—silicone, PU, softer bases
· Top pieces changed from machine made to hand tied
· Natural hair prices, as we know, have continued to rise every year. Good hair is becoming scarcer every year. Especially long hair.
· European Hair was always there, but it wasn’t so popular as it is now.
· Back then people didn’t appreciate the human hair as they do now. So much care and thought goes into selecting the right hair, creating the custom made perfect piece for their customers.