Since Patricia Wrixon founded The Salon at 10 Newbury in 1995, it has earned its place as one of the top salons in Boston, right at home on a street packed with affluent designer stores. But over the years, the salon has become known for a lot more than fancy haircuts; it's also a destination for cancer patients dealing with hair loss caused by their treatment.
That's where they find Wigs for Well-Being, a small nonprofit also started by Wrixon that provides cancer patients experiencing hair loss with customizable and luxurious wigs to help them feel a bit more like themselves.
Though the salon still provides traditional haircuts and styling services, Wrixon said her focus has largely shifted toward the nonprofit’s work. Previous clients donate their wigs back to the salon after outgrowing them, and women who do not have the funds or insurance to purchase the wigs — which cost several thousand dollars — can receive them free of charge.
When clients come in for a consultation, they must have a doctor’s prescription and a letter of financial need, but Wrixon said the process is relatively simple for a reason.
“This is very emotional for women,” she said. “Most of the time, they’re very nervous when they come because wig shopping isn’t something that particularly happens in department stores, so really, most people don’t know much about them."
By tailoring each wig to the patient and checking the color and length to match their natural hair, Wrixon said clients are always pleasantly surprised about how much they look like themselves.
Although it's based in Boston, Wigs for Well-Being does virtual consultations for those who can’t come in person, and works with medical centers throughout the Boston area. Still, the nonprofit operates at a small scale: it collected just under $6,000 in contributions and gifts last year and Wrixon is the only employee.
For her, the most rewarding part of the work is a feeling of purpose.
“I really feel that it’s such a gift that was given to me because every day, I feel like I have a mission,” she said. “The nonprofit really makes me feel really good to know that I can recycle these pieces and give them to women who would never have the opportunity to do this."