Babe Savage is a certified wigmaker who creates customised hairpieces and toupees from natural hair. The Abu Dhabi resident tells us how she finds contentment in making free wigs for people battling cancer, what she likes about her job and why she chose this profession.
What led to an interest in wig making?
My grandmother was a wigmaker back in Florida, in the US. A lot of women suffering from hair loss would come to her to get wigs done. As a little girl I was so intrigued by how she could judge what kind of wig would suit somebody just by looking at them. I assume she gauged my interest and soon started teaching me about head shapes and styles that complement facial features. She also taught me how to weave natural hair into a mesh.
So you went ahead and did a course?
Yes, I realised that I had a passion for the craft. I enrolled in the Vidal Sassoon Cosmetology School in the US and became a certified wigmaker.
How did you land up in Abu Dhabi?
I came for a short visit in 2014 and realised that there were few professional wig makers here. In 2016, my husband was posted here, so I decided to put my craft to good use and opened Babe’s Hair Extension and Wig Salon in Reem Island last September.
What is the best thing you like about your job?
I have always seen wig-making as a way to boost a person’s self-esteem. Hair is the crowning glory for women as well as men. My first love was hair extensions. Then I took to making wigs. All my creations are made with natural hair as I want to make it as authentic as possible. For a woman who is losing hair, a wig means confidence, beauty and self-esteem. And to give them that feeling of self-worth is something really special.
You have also worked with some celebrities...
Yes. While I was in US, some of my creations made it to Hollywood, adorning the heads of celebrities such as John Travolta and Janet Jackson.
How much time does it take to make a wig?
It takes six weeks to make a custom lace wig. But a lace front wig takes approximately seven to ten days. For a custom lace wig, the client’s head is measured and the head mould created. From that, the lace foundation is created and the hair ventilated to create a custom piece that suits them. Depending on the nature, wigs can cost anywhere between Dh900 and Dh8,000. Since they are made from natural hair, you can manage them quite easily.
Tell us some of the feedback that you have received from your clients.
My female clients are always amazed at their new look. They walk out of my salon with renewed confidence. My male clients are very intimidated when they first arrive. Some men don’t want to embrace the fact that they are losing hair. But I have seen the change in their confidence levels after they get their wigs too. I operate a private boutique style salon so all clients can have their privacy.
Your mother’s tryst with cancer taught you a lot, right?
When my mother broke the news to me and my brother that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, we were devastated. However, I noticed she had a very calm demeanour and there was determination written on her face. After telling us, she immediately said, ‘I’m going to beat this’. And she did it with style and grace. She never complained or asked ‘why me’. And today she is a cancer survivor. She is an inspiration to many other women like her. I wake up every day striving to be like her.
What made you donate wigs to cancer patients?
One of my clients in Abu Dhabi mentioned me to her oncologist. He called and asked if I could provide inexpensive wigs to a few of his patients as they couldn’t afford the costly ones. Having encountered cancer at close quarters, I decided to give them a wig or toupee that suited their face. So far I must have given away over 50 wigs. Most of the people have come back to me and said that they are very grateful for making them feel beautiful again.
What are your future plans?
The immediate plan would be to open a studio in Dubai. From there, I would like to expand my brand. I would like everyone to experience the feeling of a beautiful handmade hairpiece. As I always say, ‘I don’t sell wigs, I sell self-esteem.’