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
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.’’