Susan Kettering, Executive director, American Hairloss Council (AHLC)
Susan Kettering, Executive director, American Hairloss Council (AHLC)

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Susan Kettering, executive director of the American Hairloss Council (AHLC) and hair-replacement specialist, has focused on the thinning hair segment of the industry for 41 years. As a hair-replacement specialist, she designs anything that needs to be recreated—from a hair addition the size of a dime to cover alopecia areata to a full piece for a cancer patient.\

Finding a job at a hairloss clinic out of beauty school, Kettering realized a passion for helping people “get back what they’ve lost.” Through the past 40 years, Kettering has seen things continue to improve.

“Back in the ’70s, someone would come in with thinning hair, and the only solutions were transplants or put hair on their head,” Kettering says. “It’s so much easier now for younger people to hold back hairloss.”

Kettering emphasizes that working within this segment isn’t for everyone.

“It takes a lot of time, patience and creativity from a different perspective,” she says. “A stylist has to go through facial design and balance, understand what kind of hair their client had and have a heart-to-heart conversation about what the client lost and what she wants back.”

Patience pays off, according to Ketter-ing. “Once you have a client, they’re yours forever,” she says.

Many of Kettering’s clients see her every three to four weeks, leading to high retention and profi tability, and hairloss solutions run from about $110 to $380 per client per month.

“As we have grown in the industry, we’ve come to realize that we have to encompass everybody,” she says. “It’s not a hairpiece business anymore—it’s not even hair replacement. This is multi-therapeutic because we have different things for dif-ferent people; it’s only because issues are increasing that we have grown.”

Kettering’s experience and passion for this segment of the industry led one of her colleagues, a fellow salon owner, to ask her to work in his salon once a month. Although his team has been educated in hairloss, it isn’t a niche in which they specialize.

For stylists interested in learning more about hair replacement, Kettering recom-mends connecting with the AHLC.

“Attending a class is the fi rst step to see if it’s something that ignites you,” she says. “You’ll know right away.”

From there, she recommends attending classes offered by a manufacturer.

“Stay neutral to manufacturers,” she says. “Not one particular company will have everything you need.”

Education is vital, according to Kettering, who has witnessed too often how poorly placed extensions have caused alopecia on a client.

“Dealing with hair replenishment requires continuous education,” she says, stressing that those who don’t heed this advice can cause confl ict for a client.

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