2019 is going to be our best ever year here at Roches. Our journey as a wig salon in Dublin has come full circle in the past 30 years.
It all started back in 1989 with my mother Maura’s ovarian cancer diagnosis. At the time mam was 47 and working as a beautician alongside my dad in their hair salon here in Kimmage. Dad had just trained as a wig maker and suddenly he was faced with the difficult situation of fitting my mother for a wig.
Mam’s diagnosis was terrifying for us all. It was Stage 3 – 4 ovarian cancer and her surgeon gave her 6 months to live. We were all shocked, but none more so than my mam, who started to believe herself that she wasn’t going to make it through.
One of mam’s friends gave her a book by Dr O. Carl Simonton and this sparked a new approach to her illness for her. She started to challenge her beliefs about her illness and her wellness, started visualisation 3 times a day and launched herself into healthier eating and juicing.
At the time of mam’s diagnosis I was 21 and young and impressionable! Mam’s new focus and approach to getting well again made a big impact on me. I started to read the books mam was reading and we ultimately set up a cancer support group together, where we shared our new knowledge with others.
I was studying at the time and decided to do my thesis on the experience of cancer patients undergoing treatment and to attend conferences and courses on ways to actively engage in maintaining and restoring our health.
After 2 years of intense treatment, mam got the all clear! She decided to pack in her beauty career and use her personal experience of hair loss and cancer to help others going through the same. A dedicated wig centre emerged, catering specifically for people with hair loss due to chemotherapy, alopecia or natural hair thinning.
Then in 1998 when I was 30, I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma on my leg and life changed course again. While at the time I didn’t realise how serious a melanoma diagnosis is, I began to ask myself what I was doing and what I really wanted to do with this precious life of mine.
One thing led to another and I decided to end my 10 year career in social policy research and trained as a wig fitter for our family business. It brought out the creative in me, and reignited the spark I had for working with people. It made me remember how much I had enjoyed interviewing people going through cancer for my thesis all those years before.
What followed then was years learning every aspect of mam and dad’s business before finally taking it over in 2007 so that they could retire. The more clients I saw, the more I realised that these women needed so much more than just a wig. They were hanging so much more than just their appearance on their new hair – it was about the entire journey, and feeling positive enough to persevere through.
Over time as we learnt from our clients we expanded the business to include much more than just wigs. We started doing eyebrows and breast care and skin and hair products. We wanted to be able to help anyone who came to us to feel positive about their appearance again. We strived to go out of our way to find the right wig, the right bra, the right skincare – whatever was needed.
This has all led us to today. Now dad is facing treatment for prostate cancer so we are ready to go through it all again. Over the next few weeks I’ll be getting back into all things healthy to support him. He’s already visualising, meditating and drinking green juices!
At Roches, we are undergoing renovations to our salon spaces in Kimmage. We are expanding to include another private wig consultation studio and a private organic hair colour studio. We are also creating a large workshop/holistic treatment space where we will be able to hold our Positive Appearance Workshops, and invite other like-minded businesses and individuals to come and speak or practice their services.
The last 30 years have been a journey where we have learnt exactly what it feels like to be going through cancer. We have learnt from our own personal experiences, and from all the many, many clients we have seen in our salon. We have developed our skills and our offering along the way. We have evolved our salon space and our business branding. And now we are very excited to take the next step – opening our workshop space to further enhance what we can offer here at Roches.
It feels like an exciting time in Ireland. More and more people are interested in taking control of their health and their wellness, and especially when faced with a cancer diagnosis. We look forward to completing our own full circle this year with the launch of our new salon this Easter.