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Hair loss can be a devastating experience. The owners of Aqua Salon Spa are helping to reverse the trauma.
Two years ago, when cosmetologists Roszetta Pringle and Carolyn Covington partnered to open Aqua Salon Spa, an Aveda concept salon in Raleigh, North Carolina, their goal was to create a wellness center that also specialized in spa treatments and expert hair care. But they soon found themselves devoted to an even higher purpose. Pringle, a medical hair-loss specialist, had always enjoyed helping her alopecia clients. “When I complete hair loss services," Pringle says, "I see success in the clients’ reactions: faces light up, tears flow, hugs are shared.”
Last year, the partners created “Beauty From the Heart,” an initiative to help fund hair prostheses for children. The spa recently donated their first service to 16-year-old Adrianna Shingleton, who suffers from hair loss due to a private medical condition. Aqua Salon Spa treated Shingleton to a day of pampering, including a custom hair prosthesis, style, manicure and pedicure as well as a dress from Aqua’s community partner Adore Boutique. Profoundly moved by the experience, Pringle and Covington are now working to collect enough donations to offer the costly service to alopecia patients throughout the year. DAYSPA checked in with Covington to find out more about Aqua’s hair-loss work and other recent charitable endeavors. —Lisa Sweetingham
DAYSPA: Beauty from the Heart actually started as an educational forum. What did that entail?
Carolyn Covington: Empowering women in the community, offering spa and hair services, donating our time for seminars. We also worked with a local women’s shelter, pampering them and trying to take the focus off what they were going through in their lives, to make them feel better inside and out.
Then you got involved in kids’ programs, too?
We did Pamper with a Purpose last summer—cut-a-thons, manicures, pedicures and massages—to raise money for food for school-age children. Many kids from impoverished families can get school lunches, but then they don’t have enough to eat on the weekends. The schools fill up backpacks and send them home with meals they can prepare themselves.
Your partner has a personal connection to hair-loss work?
Yes, when Roszetta's father was diagnosed with cancer, she would be with him at the hospital and see all the women there going through the same thing. She thought, ‘I can’t help them with their illnesses, but I can give them more hair.’ She wants to give people a sense of normalcy in their lives.
What’s the process for these services?
Our whole team comes together to decide on the color, cut and style that will best fit the individual. And everything is customized: You cannot put the same hairstyle on everyone. When you get a prosthesis done you want to feel like it’s a light and perfect fit.
It's expensive, isn’t it?
It’s very costly—anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500, depending on how much customization and the needs of the individual. Insurance will sometimes pay a portion, but not all of it.
Adrianna looks amazing.
We call her our next top model! Kids used to ask her why she didn’t have hair and she’d have to explain her illness. Now, she gets to be herself. In October, in honor of breast cancer research, she had a little pink hair extension added into her prosthesis! How’s that? She just feels so confident now.
How long did her procedure take?
Her first visit, a consultation, took about an hour. Then a lot of things had to be discussed back and forth with her mother. We had to design her prototype, make selections on density, texture and style. Once all of that was decided, it took about eight weeks for her prosthesis to arrive. Then, when she came back in, she got about a 2.5-hour service.
And some of that is done in private?
For all of our hair-loss clients, the hair is put on in a private area first, and then they return to the main styling floor to get their services done like everybody else. Clients feel really great that they’re not going to a place where everyone is sick, like a hospital or hair replacement center. We’re trying to bridge that gap.
How did Adrianna end up coming to you?
She was referred to us by Duke University Hospital. Roszetta went there last year and did a presentation to become a resource for them.
Do you ever have clients who are just too challenging to take on?
Yes, and we’ve partnered with a medical supervisor, Dr. Jamila Battle. If we get someone we don’t have a solution for, we refer them to her. She may still send them back to us for a prosthesis or a hair-loss prevention plan.
Why do you and your partner feel the need to give back in your community?
In our industry, business is community-based. It has to be. That’s how your spa survives. And when we’re dealing with youth and college-age women, whatever we can do to show them what strong women in the community are like really helps to build their self-esteem. When they see us doing well, they know they can do well. We’re trying to show them the path—what they have to do when they move up into our spaces.
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