Every month Sustainable Salons’ depot is flooded by hundreds of generous ponytail donations from around Australia and New Zealand, on a journey to be made into a wig for someone suffering from alopecia or medically-induced hair loss. Some of those precious Australian ponytails are sent to Rachel Walker at Mr Walker’s Wiggery in Perth, Western Australia.
Not only is Rachel a highly skilled wig-maker, she is the owner of Chilli Couture Salon (which was our very first Sustainable Salons member in WA!). Between these two businesses, she is making an amazing impact on both the environment and her community.
The creation of just one wig takes a huge amount of time, Rachel says, “For a full wig it can take between 60-200 hours to make, depending on whether it is a basic wig or fully ventilated.”
That’s no small task - especially as much of the work requires ventilating the hair, where each strand of hair is knotted onto Swiss lace, one by one, completely by hand. But Rachel is more than ready to dedicate her time to her art, “I was so frustrated that I couldn’t find the ‘perfect’ wig or hairpiece for my clients who were going through chemo or had alopecia. I’d try and use what I could buy then break them down and restitch them. Then I’d get even more frustrated by the lack of quality and how poorly they seemed to fit.” Fuelled by a passion to provide the best to her customers, she took a leap to train one-on-one with the best in the world, all the way in New York!
Now Rachel makes her custom lace wigs from scratch, and she says the result is definitely worth it. Her favourite part of the job is when she hands the wig over to her clients, “My favourite part of wig-making is seeing how happy the recipient is when they get their wig or hair piece - they put it on and you can see the elation they feel. It brings tears to my eyes.” It’s a wonderful moment that is echoed over the country by other wig-makers, and made possible by all our generous ponytail donors.
Rachel says the best way to support those in need of a wig is to donate your hair, “Your hair doesn’t have to be super thick or super long and it means so much for those who don’t have hair. Making a wig costs a lot of money because the work is so painstaking and buying hair is very expensive for the person who needs the wig. So if they can have hair that is donated then that’s amazing.” She also encourages supporting local wig makers where you can, as this ensures that they have been made from ethically sourced hair by workers who are being paid fairly.
When Rachel isn’t in the wiggery, she’s styling hair at her vegan salon Chilli Couture. She’s loved every aspect of being a Sustainable Salon, she says, “Obviously being a Sustainable Salons member is about environmental protection and reducing the impact this industry has on the planet, and that was the reason I wanted to join so badly. I didn’t care what it cost me.
"I was pleasantly surprised when we started gaining clients just from being a Sustainable Salons member. I had no idea that clients were actually looking for salons that were members of Sustainable Salons.”
We're constantly in awe over the amazing things our salons achieve, both in an out of the salon!
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Sustainable Salons provides the most comprehensive salon resource recovery system to the professional hairdressing, beauty and pet grooming industries. We collect and recycle up to 95% of a salon’s waste and reward the salon for their recycling efforts!
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