Now this is the story all about how, my life got flipped, turned upside down…
This felt like a fitting intro, though I didn’t go from rags to riches, my story did start with quite a transformational change to my life, which led serendipitously to where I am today; business owner of my own bespoke headwear brand for hair loss.
So five years ago I found my first patch on my head, dismissively, I didn’t pay it much attention. Though as the years went by, more and more started to appear and I was diagnosed with alopecia, a type of autoimmune disease, caused when the body attacks its own cells. I was told there was no cure, though I tried every cream, medication, injection and dietary prescription I could. Despite this, it kept falling out and I had very little hair left. One night when I came home, my boyfriend had a bottle of wine, a razor and a bath waiting for me. He knew I’d been unhappy, and offered to shave my head. Then the eyebrows and eyelashes fell out too. It was a very difficult time, I lost my confidence, my identity and fell into a depression. I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror, I didn’t recognise the person staring back and I missed the girl I once was.
I experimented with wigs and makeup and began to find a new style and with time my confidence grew. I came out to my friends and family and the response I got was so overwhelming, it was a huge turning point for me. At some point in my journey, it’s hard to know when, I stopped seeing my baldness as a taboo and realised that I’m the only person stopping myself from feeling normal. My opinion of myself is the only one that really matters. The more I accepted and loved myself the happier I felt. And so I began to embrace my baldness, celebrate it even! Talking about it publicly helped normalise it for others and maybe even encourage people struggling the way I was.
Then just as things were starting to go well, COVID hit and for the second time my world got turned upside down, only this time it wasn’t just mine. My work closed overnight and the future no longer seemed so certain. I was placed on furlough for many months and the days grew longer and longer, I found myself lost and depressed. One day I was working out at the gym, wearing my makeshift bald cap, I had a lightbulb moment, It hit me like lightning! I decided at that moment I was going to start a business, selling these caps to others with hair loss. I was so excited by the prospect of creating something which was my very own - which could also help beautiful people with hair loss all around the world. I worked away day and night for months, researching, designing, ordering samples, finding suppliers and setting up my online store. I kept telling myself; ‘It had to be all in or nothing’, so one night I made a crazy decision and bought 600 caps, taking a huge leap of faith. I knew that though this seemed risky it was a business investment and an opportunity to learn and grow.
By December my business went live! Though the excitement was short-lived as the months rolled by with no sales, fear crept in and I began to doubt myself. I decided to take matters into my own hands, researching SEO search algorithms, sales tactics and social media marketing. I kept making lots of incremental improvements to my page and sent out free samples to get feedback. This seemed to pay off!.. one week in March my page exploded with sales, 15 in one week! For some unknown reason, I broke down in tears! Aren’t we funny like that? It just meant a lot to see all those months of hard work finally pay off. Since then the sales keep coming in steadily, it’s a small number, which is what I was hoping for (at least for now) and when I’m ready I’ll ramp up the marketing strategies again.
It’s been such a wonderful and rewarding journey which I would recommend to anyone. And if it doesn't work out, you just iterate and try again! I’ve been opened to a whole new world of experiences and community. I’ve been humbled to learn the stories of so many brave, strong women, fighting their own battles through cancer, leukaemia or alopecia. I’ve seen real strength and beauty and feel freed from the superficial expectations of the beauty which I once knew.
Now I feel stronger, happier and more myself than ever before. I have a business, love and a greater appreciation for life. This seemingly ‘awful’ illness has given me so much in return. I’d never truly loved myself before, back when I had a full head of hair. It seems so ironic now, how I’d spend so much time plucking, bleaching and waxing; fearing that my hairiness made me look ugly or masculine. Sometimes in life, it takes losing something to make you realise what's really important.
I thank my lucky stars and Zeus for that lightning bolt which hit me, as without it, I fear what mental state I would be in right now after a year on furlough, living the same routine each day. This business has kept me mentally stimulated, positive and passionate about life. If you’re reading this and feeling a little lost too, why not start your own creative project? It could be your own venture or just a hobby, having an outlet to channel your creativity is so powerful in keeping you centered, focused and ‘hun’ as you make your way through life.
Thank you universe,
Love Abbie <3
Aka, Beautiful Warrior