First Person Singular: Wig shop owner Sok 'Ann' Reed
In Korea, it's like poor and rich, short and tall, right? Well, I lost my father when I was a young age, and you can see I'm short. My IQ was pretty high, but you have to have a lot of money to go to college. I didn't want to settle for a farmer [or] any old body as my fiance, so I went one year to cosmetology school, and I started working in a beauty shop when I was 19. Beauty salon is very glamorous in Korea. In America, they use the beauty shop more like a laundromat. That part I didn't like. I wanted to be in beauty, not just washing hair. Here a wig shop is similar: glamorous. A wig is clean, brand-new; all you have to do is open a new one, put it on and shape it up.
I learned in my cosmetology school that 75 percent of your looks comes from hair. Hair. Say Mary wears a thousand-dollar dress, people are going to say, "Oh, Mary's dress is beautiful." They don't say Mary, right? But say you have a nice wig or nice hairdo; they're going to say, "Oh, Mary looks good." Even though she's got a wig, right?
One customer, an attorney, came in looking for a wig, and she was really sad. My oldest daughter is an attorney, so I know their lifestyle. They're so focused working. At first she didn't know what color to get. So I gave her brunet, I gave her blond, long and short, all kinds of different characters. I told her, you know, "Joan Collins, she wears a different kind of wig all the time; she looks beautiful. Joan Collins, right?" So I sold her one with her hair color and a couple other ones -- she had so much fun. She said, "Oh, Ann, you helped me so much." She's more cheerful. She said people started to pay attention to her. I haven't seen her in a little while. I think her life is more happy. Long as I can make somebody else happy, you know, help their look improve, that makes me cheer up. You can change your character. You can walk out of the store a new you.
Interview By KK Ottesen