Wig expertise comes from experience
Shop provides personal touch for people in need
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 nonHodgkin’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.”
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.
Danielle Izzo, owner of Danielle Elizabeth Wigs, in her new studio in Ridgefield Wednesday.