NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — From a young age, Frances Armstrong has loved to make other people look their best.
“Started doing my sister's hair, my mom's hair. When I realized I could make a career of it, I decided to go for it," Armstrong said.
The owner of Salon 403 in Newport News has been styling and cutting hair for nearly 15 years. On top of her daily regimen of hair appointments and treatments (by appointment only from the COVID-19 pandemic), you can find her fulfilling another need in-between clients.
“Started making wigs for people with cancer, primarily with my clients. They’ve been with me for so long, they get devastating news, but they want to feel a sense of normalcy. They want to feel like themselves. So I started doing that for them.”
For years, Armstrong has hand-crafted and sewn wigs using real hair for patients and others who might be experiencing hair loss from chemotherapy.
When Armstrong talked to 13News Now on Friday, she was in the process of crafting a mixed-blend wig for a client who was suffering from hair loss as a side effect of an auto-immune disease.
“I did not think wig making would be a part of the service I would be doing. Wasn’t in the original plan," Armstrong said.
Armstrong said roughly half of the wigs she's commissioned to make are specifically for cancer patients. Those clients are either regular hair clients that come to her in their time of need, or others who hear about Armstrong's skillset through word-of-mouth.
Each wig Armstrong sews is customized and fitted specifically to whatever will make the patient most comfortable about their appearance. Once finished, Armstrong also regularly styles, cares, and cuts it based on the person's preference.
“This lets you know, just how everybody’s talent is important to somebody. It makes you feel like you’re more than just a hairstylist.”