"My family goes back three generations in Washington, D.C. I went to Florida for college, but couldn't take the heat and lack of culture there, so I moved back to this area. I transferred to the and got a job as a DJ. At the time, I was all rock and roll and had a pink mohawk. After school, I cleaned up a little and took a job at IBM. I started off in administration and ended up as a systems engineer, which is something that none of my friends know because I don't have a cell phone and people think of me as a technophobe. I was actually a Unix systems engineer.
“All through my working life, I was always searching for this really creative career. I worked at a number of big organizations, but always felt like a fish out of water. Then I got sick a number of years ago and had to leave the work force. I spent ten years flailing around and had no focus. I was spending a lot of time at home and started making colorful wigs out of yarn because I always dressed slightly out of the norm. I started making them for my friends who were in the arts and began holding wig-making workshops.
“At the time, I lost a number of people to cancer who meant a lot to me. One in particular was Kimberly ‘Kaihea’ Rupp. She told me that she wished she could come to one of my workshops and make a wig, as she had experienced hair-loss at the time of chemotherapy. At the time, I hadn't figured out how to attach the wig to a bare scalp. I have always regretted that I didn’t figure out how to make her a fabulous wig, but I named this project in her honor. Now we make wigs on bandana-shaped wig-caps.
“Cancer is a really frightening thing, and I wanted to find a way to make women and children feel like rock stars. I think that people who lose their hair to medical treatments go through a period when they are grieving about their own loss, especially after chemotherapy. We are all walking canvases of art. I have always believed that the face deserves a proper frame of hair. More than anything, our hair is a simple representation of what our attitude is on the inside. I hope that on the days when people who are ill feel like they don’t have a lot of light, these wigs will help them illuminate their beautiful inner colors.
“Now I wear my wig most of the time. Originally, I did it because I thought it looked cool. I wear it in solidarity with people who have gone through something more terrifying than I can imagine. This project has given me something to identify with after feeling so devoid of life for so long after I had gotten sick. With this project, I feel plugged into life again.”
Learn more about Hair-Flair for Hope, Sherri's organization, here. To donate money, materials or time, email Sherri at firstname.lastname@example.org.