Be­hind the doors of one Pt Che­va­lier shop there are walls cov­ered with hair. Whether you’re af­ter auburn locks or a mop of blonde, Jes­sica’s Wigs has thou­sands of manes to choose from. Wig con­sul­tant Jes­sica Fel­lows sat down with re­porter to talk about a

Jess Lee

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Jes­sica Fel­lows tends to the tresses of ev­ery­one from tele­vi­sion stars to Elvis im­per­son­ators.

Fel­lows, 70, is a wig con­sul­tant and helps fit and style wigs for en­ter­tain­ers, as well as peo­ple who have lost their hair be­cause of chemo­ther­apy, alope­cia or old age.

Her most Her­self. She has bat­tled can­cer twice. ‘‘I think any­one who is forced into a wig be­cause of can­cer or alope­cia, you can put the best wig ever on and at first it’s like, ‘Urgh’,’’ she says.

‘‘But we’ll get the right wig on them and most of them will say, ‘Oh it’s bet­ter than my own hair’.’’

Gone are the days when you can spot a wig a mile off, she says.

‘‘They’re just like or­di­nary hair they’re so good.

‘‘Years ago wigs looked like wigs

dif­fi­cult cus­tomer? – they were shock­ing.

‘‘It makes me feel good now that I can put a wig on a cus­tomer and it just won’t look like a wig when I’ve fin­ished.’’

Fit­ting a wig is all about find­ing a style and colour that suits a per­son’s face, she says.

A hair­dresser by trade, she’s a dab hand at pick­ing out the right wig for a per­son within min­utes.

Cus­tomers can spend hours in a pri­vate fit­ting room with Fel­lows to get the best look and walk out with their heads held high.

‘‘I’ve got to say with all my reg­u­lars, there’s no such thing as a cus­tomer – they’re friends. With how many jobs can you say that?’’

The wigs are im­ported from the United States and will last about a year of daily use be­fore they need re­plac­ing.

She rec­om­mends wash­ing them just twice a year with her own in­struc­tions to help them last.

Fel­lows was born and raised in Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land.

She says it was her hus­band’s ‘‘itchy feet’’ which prompted the cou­ple to up sticks and move to New Zealand in the 1960s.

They ar­rived with just $200 in their pock­ets.

She says it wasn’t easy but she hasn’t looked back.

The road to a life in wigs all started with a lit­tle sa­lon in Mt Eden.

‘‘When I look back I think, ‘how stupid’, I didn’t have any money, but I went and asked them how much they wanted for it.’’

She sold the sa­lon af­ter a few years and made the leap from work­ing as a hair­dresser to styling wigs at the Karanga­hape Rd depart­ment store Ge­orge Courts in the 1970s.

From those hum­ble be­gin­nings, Fel­lows soon found her­self man­ag­ing the store’s wig sec­tion.

The plucky Brit de­cided to set up her own store when Ge­orge Courts closed down.

She moved from Queen St to St Kevin’s Ar­cade be­fore stum­bling upon her Pt Che­va­lier premises.

Af­ter more than 38 years in the busi­ness she has no plans to re­tire. ‘‘It’s such a re­ward­ing job. ‘‘With a wig it’s not an over­the-counter job; you get to know the per­son and you never know who’s go­ing to walk in each day.’’

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