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‘The Hair Lady’ looks to pass torch to the right person

by on April 12, 2018 9:27 AM

STATE COLLEGE — It’s more about heart than about hair. That’s one thing that becomes apparent as soon as Janise Crow starts talking about her wig boutique.

Crow has been building her business since 2001, when she started selling ponytail clip-on hairpieces just for fun. Her customers at the time included local cheerleading and dance teams, who knew her as “The Hair Lady.” The name stuck and became the official name of her business, which is located at 2518 Sleepy Hollow Drive.

It didn’t take long before she noticed there was a much bigger need than stylish hairpieces, Crow said. 

“Inevitably, I’d have someone come to me and say, ‘My friend or family member is going through chemo, do you have any wigs?'” said Crow. “And what really did it for me was, ladies would come to me in tears, because they weren’t able to find compassionate people to serve their needs.

“These women were going through a lot, just recently having been diagnosed with cancer. You don’t have any control over your body parts, you’re being told you’re having things cut off and now you’re going to lose your hair. It’s devastating. And then to go to a salon and not be treated nicely, or kindly, or respectfully, that’s intolerable. And that’s what was happening. And the more people I saw like that, I thought, I just have to do something.”

At the time, Crow only carried small hairpieces and a few fashion wigs that were not medical-grade or meant for any sort of long-term use. She set out to learn about the industry.

“I looked around all over the United States for training, but there really wasn’t any. So I figured it out on my own,” she said. “I made a huge investment into wigs, I evaluated them, I cut them up, I burnt them, I did all kinds of things with all the different types of wigs that were available at the time, and then I made my decision about which designers to carry, what companies I’d like to work with, and those kind of things, slowly educating myself.”

Crow, who operates her entire business from a converted bedroom in her Ferguson Township home, now carries a huge selection of wigs.

While she continues to provide hairpieces to cheerleaders, dance teams, majorettes and other groups, the bulk of her time is spent serving oncology patients and women suffering from other kinds of hair loss, which afflicts 40 percent of American women, Crow said.

Relying almost solely on word of mouth and referrals from oncology departments, Crow’s business is thriving and profitable today. However, due to familial obligations that are increasingly demanding her time and attention, Crow is looking to retire — but not until she finds the perfect person to take over her business.

“This is not just a typical business sale. I truly want to find someone who is compassionate and loving, and that has a flair for hair. That’s important.”

Crow said she will either offer the business as one complete unit, or in smaller, custom packages, depending on what the buyer may need. 

“If someone wants to buy the whole entity, that would include the name, the brand, the reputation that goes with it, all the inventory, the tangible assets, the marketing, the website, the social media, the client database and training. If someone needs wig training or business training, I can offer specialty training,” she said.

“I can be around to help with the transition and to consult for as long as someone needs me. I’m looking for a mentor relationship, really. My goal is to make somebody successful because I really believe in this, and there’s such a need for it.”

Crow said the business could easily be adapted to fit into different settings and lifestyles.

“It could be housed in a private room inside of a salon or a women’s boutique, practiced from someone’s home or even as a mobile business,” she said. “The beauty of this business is, you’re in control of your own schedule. I rarely work evenings or weekends, and that’s a real plus.”

Crow said that the next “Hair Lady” does not necessarily need to have any specialized background or training.

“A licensed cosmetologist could do a lot more with this, but that is not a requirement,” she said. “You just kind of need to be teachable and creative.”

The No. 1 thing on Crow’s mind as she moves toward finding a buyer for her business is always her client base.

“I want to assure my current clients that I am not closing. And people get nervous about the next person, but I think most people know me well enough to know that I’m not just going to sell this business to someone who doesn’t care,” she said. “I really just want to find someone caring, that wants to make a difference in the lives of other women.”
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