My first experience of alopecia was on a Tuesday evening in the October half term of 2019, I was 14. As I was getting ready for bed, I walked up the stairs and started taking my hair out of its ponytail. As I did, a chunk of hair fell out in my hand. I didn’t know how it happened. ‘Mum’, I shouted and we decided that I must have accidentally cut it with my ring somehow. Mum later said she knew it wasn’t that, but didn’t know what else to say to me.

The morning after, I was putting my hair into two plaits when I noticed another small patch. I ignored it, let my mum know, had a cuddle and got on with my day. We had planned to go into town and on the way home we had to go past our doctors’ surgery. We went in and booked an appointment. Luckily we saw the doctor later that day, the doctor told me and my mum that it was a normal thing that some teenagers can experience because of hormones or stress, and that we shouldn’t worry about it. So we didn’t, until my hair kept falling out and only a few days later I had lost around 80% of my hair. At this point I decided I wanted to shave the rest of it off as there was no way of disguising it. We invited two of my friends over, my older sister and her husband and mum shaved the rest of my hair and my sister shaved my dad’s (he wanted to support me). It was almost like a head shave celebration, trying to make it empowering rather than negative.

Most people think that it must have been really difficult and that I would struggle coming to terms with it. Honestly, of course it’s not something that anyone would choose to happen to them or that anyone would like, but it didn’t bother me that much. I just got on with it and have always been very open about my alopecia

I had some blood tests which showed that I had very low ferritin levels (0.5) and folic acid. About a month after these tests,  I was really ill and ended up in hospital. They found that I had an ovarian cyst, and that my ferritin levels could have been low because of my really heavy irregular periods since the age of 12. They linked this to my alopecia; however I am still being treated by my doctor and the hospital.

After I became bald, I wanted to find alternatives to hair. I got a few synthetic wigs and my mum ordered me a blue and pink head tube scarf from Alopecia UK's website shop. I loved them, they were so comfy and easy to sling on and also looked amazing. I would even wear them to school or just go bald. After a few months of wearing these head tubes, I decided that I wanted some new patterns so I searched and searched but couldn’t find any. This led to me starting my own small business in August 2019, making head tubes. I made my business cards, thank you stickers and packaging supplies, then it got to the fun part; choosing the material. I decided to make this small business because I think it’s important that people can feel comfortable and pretty without wearing a wig. I was 15 when I started my business and on the first day I got three international orders, I was so excited! 

For the first couple of weeks I had quite a few orders, but they started to drop and I didn’t get any for a while. This is understandable as there isn’t a high demand for them. I was unmotivated for a little bit because of this however I didn’t give up and I bought more material and started progressing again. Obviously I have made a few mistakes with this as you can’t get a small business right the first time, for example; calculating shipping and getting material that everyone can enjoy. But overall, people have loved the products they have brought; most commonly I get told that they love them because they are soft, cosy and keep their head warm. Some people wear them to sleep in, some people wear them out and some do both.  My headwear is made to suit everyone and make everyone feel wonderful whilst wearing it. When I lost my hair I didn’t look at it as a negative I saw it as an opportunity and turned it into something positive.

Find my headwear on instagram and facebook: handmadeby.abi