My Hair Loss Story, written by Audra Rackley @audrarackleyhair

I’d like to start off by introducing myself. I’m Audra, and I have had Alopecia Areata since birth.

There is no cure for this Autoimmune Disease, so I have been wearing hair for over 20 years. I am also a hair stylist. I am so grateful to have a profession in which I love and can help others. It took me many years and many different jobs to reach the point at where I am today. I feel blessed to be able to share my knowledge and passion with others behind the chair as a stylist and hair loss specialist.

Over the years I have worn or worked with every different type of hair there is.

I started initially wearing the clip on ponytails from Sally’s. Then as my AA progressed, I started wearing extensions. I bonded extensions for quite a while myself.

That was extremely unhealthy for my scalp, and just not practical. I graduated into wearing synthetic wigs, trying many colors and styles. But with the desire to have the most natural and realistic look, I moved into human hair. I’ve worn full lace, lace front, silk top, medical caps, a CNC system that was bonded on, long, short, blonde, brown, red, if it’s out there I have most likely tried it. 

This gives me a true connection with the clients I work with, an understanding of the journey they are walking. I went undiagnosed clinically until 3 years ago.

I grew up being bullied from the time I can remember in a rural Kentucky town. It was scarring to say the least. It was a horrible and traumatic experience nobody should go through, especially a child. I don't think I had any self confidence until I was at least in my 20's.

Like most women who experience hair loss (1 in 3 to be precise) I was ashamed and wanted to hide it. The fear of rejection or more bullying drove me further and further into a hole of depression. I’m not sure when the positive turning point was exactly, but living like that for so long was exhausting.

I made the decision to slowly start sharing my story with others and coming out of my shell. I realized that I wasn’t the only one in the world who was suffering with this. It was so hard to share at first, some days I still feel that way.

At that time I decided to become a hair stylist. I felt like that was my true calling. At 28 I started cosmetology school, graduating in May 2010 from The Aveda Institute Charlotte. 

Working behind the chair is what eventually made me feel more comfortable with myself.

Seeing how women trusted me, sharing their own insecurities and fears. That  motivated me to turn the most negative thing in my life (my hair loss) into the most positive.

After several years of being a commission based stylist I took a giant leap of faith and opened my own Aveda exclusive salon, Studio Blue. Being a salon owner was what I lived and breathed for 5 years. The hard work was very rewarding. I had the highest rated, most successful salon in my city. But not without consequence.

The time spent running a successful salon and working full time behind the chair didn’t allow me to focus on hair loss education and training. Believe me though, there is always A PLAN, a door to be opened, dreams to achieve. 

In August of 2018 I closed Studio Blue and opened WHR. I truly believe I am living out my purpose today owning Wilmington Hair Restoration. I spend my days customizing wigs and hair pieces, still working with a select few clients, volunteering with various organizations and counseling others on how to live with bullying and hair loss.

I recently took a week long class to learn how to make full lace wigs or toppers by hand. This was AMAZING! I plan to start making custom pieces later this year after some more practice.

I feel like my hair loss has enabled me to meet so many new friends and do what I love every single day.

My hair loss does not define me. In an odd twist, it has made me shine. 

woman with alopecia and hair loss

Please message me if you have any questions or need any guidance on your hair loss or alternative hair journey. 

Find me on IG @audrarackleyhair

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