09-24 Eleganza

Sue Campo, owner of Che Bella, is opening a wig and hat boutique in the basement of her salon. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun photo)

LACONIA — A good hairstyle can make a client not just look good, but feel good, too. Some people, though, need a little extra help, and that’s where Sue Campo’s new business, Eleganza, comes in. It’s a wig and hat boutique opening today.

Campo has been operating Che Bella, a hair salon, for 19 years. One of her early clients had cancer, and Campo watched as she found a wig, and scarves, to give her a way to manage when her hair fell out as a side effect of her cancer treatment. Through her client, who has since died, Campo saw that there was no local source for wigs short of traveling to Concord.

“I thought, we have a need for it,” Campo said. And she had the space.

Campo started her business on Union Avenue. Five years ago, she bought a building on Irving Street, a short street that connects Union Avenue to Messer Street. That building had space for her salon as well as enough space in a basement level for another business. Campo didn’t want to do tanning or massage — other businesses that are frequently associated with hair styling — she wanted to provide an offering that was unique to the marketplace.

There was clearly a lack of competition for wigs, Campo’s research found. In fact, there were no wig shops north of Concord. That’s a problem, because getting a wig usually requires several trips to the shop: one to select the style and color, and subsequent trips to get the wig fitted to the client’s head, and later to have the wig cleaned and maintained. In the case of a cancer patient, all those trips to the wig shop can be piled on top of a schedule full of medical appointments — and at a time when she’s probably not feeling well.

So there’s a lack of local supply, what about demand? Since she started talking to people, Campo found that there are many more people in this area with wigs than she first suspected. In retrospect, Campo said, that shouldn’t have been surprising. If the wigs are made and fitted well, no one would notice that it’s a wig.

“It’s amazing, there’s more people that wear one than you think,” she said. Some have lost their hair due to cancer treatments, others have another medical condition, such as alopecia, some just have thin hair. And then there are people who would like to be able to wrap their natural hair and try on a totally different look for a day.

“As I talked to people, more and more people said, this is so great, you are going to touch so many people,” Campo said.

The wigs that Campo is carrying to begin her store are made by the California company Jon Renau, and cost between $150 and $600. She is only carrying women’s wigs for now, but is open to helping men, should there be enough demand.

Campo will be hosting a ribbon-cutting for Eleganza at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The business is located at 21 Irving Street in Laconia.

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