Behind The Scenes with Amalia Ruggiero
President/Owner of Capilia by Truly You Hair Solution Centre interviewed by B Magazine
A few years ago we had the fortune of meeting and working with Amalia Ruggiero while volunteering for Look Good Feel Better (a program that assists women living with cancer). What a delight! Amalia has worked as a wig specialist and expert in hair solutions for individuals loosing their hair for the past 15 years and is still as enthusiastic today about her work and her clients as she was when she started. We had the privilege of talking to Amalia at her salon in Mississauga.
Please define for our readers what your field of expertise entails?
My field of expertise entails understanding hair loss and the emotional effects it has on women and children, how hair grows and what makes hair a victim to medical and emotional conditions. It also entails understanding the healthy scalp and healthy hair concept. My company addresses the non-surgical method for hair loss, working closely with the medical industry. Once patients have started or completed treatments with their doctors, the patients are referred to our centre. Here we look at their particular reasons for their hair loss and recommend different solutions. Women’s or children’s hair loss may not only be from medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, but also from diabetes, severe weight loss, medications from heart disease, lupus, thyroid, hormonal, and other conditions such as alopecia, genetics or tricotillomania.
What paths lead to this career?
Amalia: My early career was in real Estate – I had a successful career for twelve years. Eighteen years ago I lost my friend, Louisa, to cancer. I remember her family having a difficult time helping Louisa with her hair loss, lack of eyebrows, her skin tone – and I remember how frustrated they were that there was no one that could help and give answers and direction. Shortly after this experience, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and we faced similar experiences. I didn’t take the changes in my mother’s appearance too seriously since she was 68 years old at the time, but when my sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 31, it really affected me…I remembered what Louisa went through. I took a sabbatical to assist both my mother and sister-in-law through their journey of cancer and watched their appearances being altered and lose control. I never did return back to Real Estate – my life took me down a very different path.
B Magazine: How long did it take to develop your career and how did you do it?
Amalia: I started to do research on women and hair loss and the emotional effects from it. I found information that I would have wanted my family to know. How less stressful it would have been for Louisa and her family if this information was available to them at the time. A year later I started my business. I called it “Wig Boutique and Accessories” and ran it out of my home and out of a suitcase. I visited the women at the hospital or in their home. At the time all my clients were women going through cancer treatments. As I grew in knowledge, attended hair academy and developed skills required in the industry, traveled across the continent to gain knowledge, my business grew. I started seeing clients at my home; I didn’t have time to visit everyone in their home any more. I worked out of my home for 2 ½ years before opening my first shop in 1995. I stayed in that location for two years before moving three doors down to a larger facility. Today I am in a beautiful building on a private street that I purchased 5 years ago. At the time, I was very fortunate to have suppliers that believed in my concept and helped direct me along the way. Today, they are my good friends…I call them my silent partners. They believed in my concept and loved my enthusiasm. It is very difficult in this industry as there are no classes you can take. A lot was self taught; you make mistakes and learn from it. I attended as many conferences around North America as I could; I presently go to two conferences a year to keep up with new concepts and new products so that I can give the best information, solutions and products to my clients. Today we are a full hair solution centre assisting women, children and now men, with all types of hair loss. As I mentioned before, our services are offered in two locations.
B Magazine: Is there a defining moment that catapults you to the top of your field where you are today?
Amalia: Well, that is a difficult question: Every day is that moment. You see, at our centre, every day is different. Every client brings to us a new experience with new challenges, and it is up to us to provide a solution that is unique. What makes me at the top of my field? – I would say it is listening to clients concerns, and providing solutions that are unique to them. You see, every woman is different, looks at her hair loss in a different way, has a different life and needs a solution that would fit that lifestyle…not mine or yours. I say to my staff – it is not about us but about our client. Let’s provide our client with the best possible service, product, understanding and experience. That makes our business exciting and unique.
B Magazine: What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Amalia: Working with some amazing women in the industry; helping educate women with hair loss and letting them know that they are not alone – hair loss affects 1 in 3 women; bringing information and solutions to these women who have been suffering with hair loss in silence. My mission is to put a smile on a woman’s face and give back her self confidence and her self esteem. I have had women say to me that I have given them back their life. It makes me feel good inside when I hear that.
I am proud to be part of and a founding member of a program called Angel Hair For Kids. I work very closely with a wonderful woman by the name of Roslyn Yearwood, the executive director of A Child’s Voice Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that Angel Hair for Kids is part of. At Angel Hair For Kids, we provide wigs for children from financially disadvantaged families, who have lost their hair as a result of the A, B, C’s of hair loss: Alopecia, Burns and Cancer Treatments. Through this program we have been able to help hundred’s of children across the country.
My career has also led me to an amazing organization that I am very proud to be a volunteer with for the past 14 years…Look Good Feel Better Program. This program addresses exactly what my mission does… all the appearance related side effects of cancer treatment. I could not ask to be part of a better organization…an organization that I have learned so much from.
B Magazine: Your career is not just “work” to you. You seem to have a special mission. Please elaborate on this?
Amalia: You are right – I never see my career as work – the day I do, is the day I will hang up my hat. Everyday is a new challenge for me. Each woman is unique bringing with her unique situations that require unique solutions for her type of hair loss. This makes every day interesting and challenging, which is fun. My mission and my goals are to bring to the industry emotional understanding of women experiencing hair loss and how to assist these women. I also want to give women across the country (not only in my backyard) solutions that will give them back their self esteem and self confidence.
B Magazine: What tips do you have for our readers?
Amalia: To seek information about their unique hair – whether their hair is fine, thin or thinning, or is experiencing changes in volume due to treatments, or if they are experiencing Alopecia, chemo/radiation treatment. Whatever the situation is, there is a solution that works with their unique circumstances.