For those with hair loss, Latasha Farmer is a salon savant
Latasha Farmer isn’t your average business owner — in fact, there’s nothing really average about her. As the owner of iSalon Plus, a Bedford hair salon dedicated to helping those with hair loss, Farmer never thought her beauty license would lead to entrepreneurship and a business dedicated to helping those in need. After her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, Farmer’s passion for hair and wig making became a source of empowerment for people in her community, and she’s just getting started.
“I studied cosmetology during high school and after I graduated, I got my license and worked in various salons for the past 25 years,” said Farmer. “When my grandmother got sick with cancer, I had to make her a wig, and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I’m pretty good at this,’ so I became certified as a hair replacement specialist.”
After realizing that she needed a smaller, more intimate space for clients dealing with hair loss, Farmer set out to establish her own business. While in the process, she learned that the trauma of cancer didn’t only revolve around hair loss, but also included the changes in one’s body. To address the concerns of her clients, Farmer set out to provide mastectomy and bra fittings by becoming an accredited durable medical equipment provider.
“During my hair replacement accreditation process, I was introduced to mastectomy fittings and the post-breast-surgery products,” said Farmer. “After learning that, I did my research and I saw the disparities amongst African-American women who didn’t have equal access to these services. I thought this kind of care was necessary, so I began the process of getting certified.”
Farmer’s comprehensive approach to her salon is fueled by her modest, can-do attitude. And for this entrepreneur, understanding someone’s hair loss journey is just as important as understanding the emotional impact of hair itself.
“Well, when a woman loses her hair, it’s very traumatic,” said Farmer. “People lose hair for all sorts of reasons like stress or illness — it’s a tremendous and emotional process because you feel that you’re not yourself. A woman’s hair is her glory. So, I have to be very cautious, and I try to make sure that I give personal attention to each client. No one story is the same. I’ve had people that say, ‘I’ve seen your advertisement and it took me three years to even come in and have a consultation.’”
Despite the often-overwhelming nature of changes in one’s appearance, Farmer’s business is designed to alleviate the stress of seeking help. By accommodating all kinds of clients, regardless of customization or insurance requirements, iSalon Plus is poised to handle any situation with empathy and flexibility.
“Being able to process insurance for medically-induced hair loss is a big deal,” said Farmer. “I’ve prioritized what other salons might not have taken the time to do. Because I’m in compliance with Medicare and Medicaid standards, I can bill any insurance, which helps my clients get their wigs.”
With all the background work and training, starting iSalon Plus was a challenge. But, when Farmer decided to tap into her community resources, she found that organizations like the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI), the Women Business Center, the Urban League and JumpStart, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier, were more than willing to help.
“Without all of the local resources, I would still be just a regular stylist,” said Farmer. “As an entrepreneur, you have to really understand that you can’t do it all by yourself. You need help. Although you have a vision and a dream, no woman is an island. You have to reach out and take advantage of the resources that are available.”
In Bedford, you can find iSalon Plus next to a doctor’s office that specializes in hair loss. Their strong relationship is one of the things that Farmer finds so inspiring about the community around her.
“Just by working with that doctor alone, I’ve seen at least 10 new clients,” said Farmer. “And it’s not just my neighbors who are helping me out. I’m a product of Cleveland public schools, I went to Cuyahoga Community College, I attended Cleveland State University, and I’m proud of it. If I can make it, anybody can.”