The Register-Guard publishes a special business section twice annually that focuses on businesses in the Coburg Road and Oakway Center area of Eugene. For the December 2014 issue I contributed three articles, this one about Mirage Hair Systems, one about personal trainer center Ultimate Fitness and another about a new restaurant called The Kozy.
By Vanessa Salvia
Mirage Hair Systems owner Janna Strasheim had a different business model when she first discovered the idea of prosthetic hair systems and cosmetic hair restoration. “I had a place called Mirage Bodyworks in Junction City at that time in 1999,” Strasheim says. “It had a juice bar, teriyaki chicken and rice, tanning, hair and nails.”
A customer who came in regularly for tanning flew to the East Coast to get a prosthetic hair system that looked so natural, no one could tell it was not her real hair. “I said, if they can do it, we can do it,” says Strasheim, “so I started learning all I could about hair loss and hair replacement.”
Mirage’s Oakway Center location now has a front area where customers can get full-service salon cuts and colors for their hair, along with a private cranial prosthetic center—Strasheim believes it is the only one in Oregon. “There are other wig shops, but none that use only medical grade adhesives like we do,” she says.
Her salon is tucked into an out-of-the-way wing on the second floor of Oakway Center. This location provides her patients with privacy, so they can seek treatment without having to navigate crowds. Anyone wanting a hair cut or color could walk in and possibly not even be aware that there was a private room in the back with highly sophisticated equipment for scalp analysis and prosthetics.
Strasheim sees patients with a multitude of hair issues. Some lose their hair due to chemotherapy. Some suffer from alopecia, an auto-immune disorder which causes hair to fall out either completely or in patches. Some people have trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling. Some have thinning hair or male or female pattern baldness.
Not all of Strasheim’s hair systems require adhesives, but the fact that Mirage uses only medical grade adhesives is important to her. “What goes on your skin goes into your system,” she says. “We see patients who already may have compromised immune systems, so nothing here is less than medical grade.”
As a trichologist, or person who studies the hair and scalp, Strasheim has the equipment and the knowledge to make detailed analyses of the scalp, and recommend treatments. She also looks at diet, nutrition and lifestyle. For instance, if someone is vegetarian or has celiac disease, they may not be getting the nutrients they need for healthy, normal hair growth. If she observes something dangerous such as melanoma, she refers patients to a dermatologist.
Strasheim bills insurances, and offers a free one-hour consultation to get to the bottom of a patient’s hair loss. “They may not need a hair system,” she says, “or they may just need partial coverage. I also look for the potential for the hair to grow back.”
The hair systems available through Mirage are a far cry from your average wig. She uses real hair, and a soft-yet-tenacious adhesive system. Some systems stick on from a patient’s body heat. “A cranial prosthesis is unlike a wig,” Strasheim says. “It’s like a next layer of skin that has hair hand-tied into it. It looks much more natural and is very comfortable next to the skin.” And, the systems are so durable that wearers can swim, go to the gym, play sports, style their hair and essentially live normal lives with no one the wiser.
Though hair styling was a part of Strasheim’s original business plan, she’s found rewarding work through her training in hair replacement. She works with the Veterans Administration to help veterans who have lost their hair through traumatic injury.
Strasheim is also active with Angel Hair Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides prosthetic hair solutions to children who have lost their hair. “We give these full prosthetic hair replacement systems to any child in Oregon for any medical reason at no cost to their families,” Strasheim says.
“I love what I do,” she says. “I love being able to do something that helps give people their self esteem back.”
Mirage Hair Systems
210 Oakway Center