Wig ex­per­tise comes from ex­pe­ri­ence

Shop pro­vides per­sonal touch for peo­ple in need

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Sunday Business - By Chris Bosak

As a cancer sur­vivor, Danielle Izzo knows first­hand about the lo­gis­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties of see­ing doc­tors, get­ting treat­ments and con­tin­u­ing a reg­u­lar fam­ily and work life — all the while deal­ing with the emo­tions of the di­ag­no­sis.

Izzo, 38, is us­ing that per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence to make one as­pect of the process eas­ier for oth­ers by launch­ing Danielle El­iz­a­beth Wigs. She started the busi­ness in Fe­bru­ary and opened her stu­dio at 409 Main St. in down­town Ridgefield on June 1.

“I wanted to cre­ate an em­pow­er­ing en­vi­ron­ment for peo­ple to come for hair pieces,” the Ridgefield res­i­dent said. “When you’re try­ing to sched­ule ap­point­ments with doc­tors and nurses and cancer cen­ters and fig­ur­ing out how to get there and get home, the last thing you need to do is hunt for a wig shop that may or may not be in your home­town.

“My mis­sion is to pro­vide a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple go­ing through chemo or los­ing their hair for other rea­sons,” Izzo said. “It’s per­sonal here be­cause it’s per­sonal for me. It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing to help peo­ple who have been look­ing ev­ery­where for this type of ser­vice.

To have them hug and thank me ... It’s a dif­fer­ent feel­ing here than in the shops I found when I was look­ing for a wig. This is some­thing near and dear to my heart.”

Get­ting the news

In fall 2016, Izzo started to feel symp­toms such as itch­i­ness, which even­tu­ally got so bad she couldn’t sleep at night. Doc­tors first thought it was a skin rash — even though there was no vis­i­ble signs of a rash — or an al­lergy.

It took un­til the sum­mer of 2017 for doc­tors to di­ag­nose her with Hodgkin’s lym­phoma, which had spread to the lymph nodes through­out her up­per torso. As they con­sid­ered treat­ment, doc­tors then found non- Hodgkin’s lym­phoma, which pre­sented it­self as a mass in her stom­ach area.

Non- Hodgkin’s was the more ag­gres­sive cancer, so doc­tors de­cided to treat that first with chemo­ther­apy, a treat­ment Izzo wel­comed as she strug­gled with the itch­ing and lack of sleep.

The treat­ments at Me­mo­rial Sloan Ket­ter­ing Cancer Cen­ter took care of both types of lym­phoma and Izzo is now cancer free.

Her hair is grow­ing back and is now about an inch long.

“It’s com­pletely un­man­age­able, but it’s get­ting there,” she said.

“So I wear a wig. I’m not ashamed. It’s be­come more of a fash­ion­able thing. Peo­ple go­ing through hair loss shouldn’t feel self- con­scious about wear­ing a wig. It’s so nat­u­ral look­ing. You don’t feel as if peo­ple are look­ing at you.”

Big wigs

IBIS­World, an in­dus­try and mar­ket re­search firm, said the wig and hair­piece in­dus­try is worth about $ 350 mil­lion and has grown quickly over the last five years as celebri­ties have embraced the use of wigs and the pop­u­la­tion ages. The firm ex­pects the trend to con­tinue over the next five years.

Izzo said an­other driver of the mar­ket is bet­ter screen­ings for cancer, which of­ten dis­cov­ers the dis­ease early and in a treat­able stage.

“It’s in­creas­ingly com­mon and

many peo­ple are deal­ing with this,” she said.

Danielle El­iz­a­beth Wigs sells wigs from $ 200 to $ 3,000. She said the hu­man- hair wigs are com­pletely cus­tom­iz­a­ble and may be parted, curled, straight­ened, and worn as an updo or pony­tail.

She car­ries wigs, top­pers and ex­ten­sions from brands such as Jon Re­nau, Ellen Wille, Rene of Paris, Amore and Revlon. She also sells a va­ri­ety of hats and scarfs. She can spe­cial or­der wigs to match one’s nat­u­ral hair color.

“The possibilities are end­less,” she said. “The in­dus­try has come a long way.”

In­spi­ra­tion and un­der­stand­ing

Izzo has a mul­ti­tude of framed in­spi­ra­tional say­ings through­out her store. Al­though her wig stu­dio is open to ev­ery­one, she knows a per­cent­age of her clien­tele will be women bat­tling cancer.

She vis­ited sev­eral wigs shops while she was un­der­go­ing treat­ment and did not feel she re­ceived ser­vice that was com­pas­sion­ate and un­der­stand­ing of what she was go­ing through. She vows to

of­fer that at her shop. Walk- ins are wel­come, but she en­cour­ages ap­point­ments dur­ing which she can do a pri­vate con­sul­ta­tion.

“If I knew then what I know now, it would have saved me from putting my wig on the wrong way. There’s so much that goes along with buy­ing a wig and you need to be taught that. You need to know how to main­tain it and take care of it. The places I went to didn’t pro­vide that,” she said. “Peo­ple are in a sen­si­tive sit­u­a­tion. They aren’t used to see­ing them­selves bald. This is not just a place to get a wig. It’s a place to talk about what you’re go­ing through. It’s about be­ing em­pow­ered and feel­ing good about your­self again.”

Jen­nifer Zinzi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Ridgefield Cham­ber of Com­merce, is happy to see Izzo fill a needed niche in the town.

“Danielle’s vi­sion, based on her own ex­pe­ri­ences, will pro­vide a nur­tur­ing and com­fort­able des­ti­na­tion for any­one need­ing wigs, head cov­er­ings and more,” Zinzi said. “With her per­son­al­ized ser­vice, clients can be as­sured of a warm and nur­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment where their needs will be met with com­pas­sion. This fills a need not only in Ridgefield, but our sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties, as well.”

Izzo added El­iz­a­beth to the name of her busi­ness be­cause it is her mid­dle name and also her mother’s name. She said her mother helped her “ev­ery step of the way” as Izzo fought cancer. Her mother also helps in the stu­dio.

“We went through this to­gether and she can re­late to the moth­ers who come in with their daugh­ters. It’s such a re­lief to peo­ple when some­one else un­der­stands,” Izzo said. “I’m still truck­ing along. It makes you re- eval­u­ate ev­ery­thing in your life. You ap­pre­ci­ate what you have and that keeps you go­ing.”

The Ridgefield Cham­ber of Com­merce will hold a grand open­ing event for Danielle El­iz­a­beth Wigs at 10 a. m. on Wed­nes­day. The shop may be reached at 203- 438- 1WIG.

Chris Bosak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Danielle Izzo, owner of Danielle El­iz­a­beth Wigs, in her new stu­dio in Ridgefield on Wed­nes­day.

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