Wigging Out For Others

In Everyone has one, Features, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

In the back area of Churchill’s Salon located at 9521 South Dixie Highway in Miami, Florida, Steve Berman has a private salon room where he creates a different make over. Most people want to have the “after” make over look. Steve gives his client the “before” look: Before Cancer left them without hair look.

Steve Berman’s Wigs Salon

Ever since he was 14 years old, Berman’s life has been in the hair industry. He began helping in his parents’ hair salon in Queens, New York. Later, his involvement with hairpieces and wigs earned him the title of First Place World Wide Winner of International Competition in Hair and Hairpiece Design.

Entering his salon’s working area and speaking to him about his creations, there is an obvious feeling that his priority is giving a piece of self dignity and happiness to his clients not receiving the prestigious awards or pats on the back from his colleagues.

“Thank you” notes and pictures from his clients decorate the mirror on his wall. There is a picture of Mariya Klymenko, a seven year old burned victim from the Ukraine, who was at Baptist’s Children’s Hospital undergoing plastic surgery along with a note expressing her gratitude for his work. She was fortunate enough to be the recipient of one of Steve’s donated wig creations.

On the average, Steve’s wigs and hairpieces range from $280 to $600. Sometimes insurance companies reimburse their clients for the purchase but that is the exception not the rule. Although, it should be a factor to be considered as a necessity because according to Berman, he is the one who “takes care of the image, the self respect and the self worth” after dealing with a harsh physical transformation such as hair loss.

Many of his clients first see Steve before they undergo the chemotherapy and radiation. The first private visit gives him the opportunity to consult with the client, determine the hairstyle, and measure for fitting. He makes each wig by himself and he keeps his client’s in his mind throughout the whole process.

Although, Steve’s personality is very animated he takes his work seriously. Steve said that his customers are “not a sale”. “You have to feel it in your heart when you meet the person, create the wig, and place it on the person’s head. Not everyone is cut out for this work” he explains. In the past, coworkers whose work he admires have turned down his offer to become involved with his clients. The emotional attachment can be overwhelming for anyone.

“I become very attached to all of them,” he said about his clients. There are people who struggle with the physical effects of the medical procedures, the financial burden of medical bills, and the emotional anguish of seeing the dramatic change in their bodies. When they sit in Steve’s chair he can see their pain, anguish, and loss.

He doesn’t consider himself a miracle worker since he can’t possibly take away their disease but he can create some sense of familiarity when the client looks at him/herself in the mirror and sees the “before” cancer look in the reflection.

According to Berman, he helps those “who are in need due to hair loss”. His clients are men, women, and children surviving with cancer and “in need of hair” after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. He also helps clients with alopecia. If you know someone who can benefit from Steve’s wigs and hairpieces you can call him at 305-665-2100. Tell him Nathasha says “hello”!