Local Hairdresser Overcomes Alopecia
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When Sherry Schaefer was in high school she won an essay contest. Her prize was free admission to a local beauty school. That was more than 30 years ago but Sherry still remembers the last sentence of that essay. It became a motto that still describes her today.
"The Last sentence of what I said was 'If I can help someone to feel good by helping them to look good, I've done something great for both of us'," said Sherry.
Dozens of Hairdressing and Cosmetic jobs later Sherry opened her own business, 'Alternative Hair', in a remodeled bedroom in her home. She calls her profession 'recession proof'.
"It seems to be more important all the time in the culture we live in today. A new lipstick has the power to make or break our day. It’s something so small but mentally it can help lift us above the daily drudgery."
The ability to lift a client’s spirits is a skill every good hairdresser develops over the years, but Sherry has more to offer her clients, she has insight.
"I was three months shy of my 40th birthday and was working in a salon as a very busy hairdresser and one of my fellow co-workers noticed one day that I had lost some hair in the nape area of my neck. Over time the bald spots grew and grew and grew as the shedding increased.
On New years eve day, 1999, I took a glass of wine, went into the bathroom and shaved what was left."
Sherry was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease that results in hair loss. There is no cure.
"You can see how much of my own is gone."
As the name of her business suggests, Sherry says you need to be prepared for alternatives. She admits the first few months were difficult, then she embraced her fate.
"Someone pulled me aside one day and said 'You know, it's amazing watching you go through this Sherry, You're doing so well, you're handling it so well, and you've got some great wigs'."
Although Alopecia affects only about two percent of the population, dozens of locals who suffer from Alopecia have found comfort in Sherry chair.
"Really it's about others and helping others. I think that in large part is why we go through trials. That is, without question, why I've gone through this."
Over time other clients arrived; men and women, young and old. She now works almost exclusively as a wig stylist.
"The goal is to put our hair on in the morning, feel comfortable about looking normal. And then being able to forget about it and get on with our day."
"If I can help someone to feel good by helping them to look good, I've done something great for both of us."