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A Snug Fit

A Snug Fit


An Emmy-nominated soap star turned her harrowing experience with her hair into a business to help transgender women.

Wig industry maven Amy Gibson relates to her transgender clientele -- and not just because they provide incredible income. Skeptics can rest assured her sympathy is rooted in commiseration, not marketing.

"I really feel what they go through, being stuck in the wrong body," says the Emmy-nominated Gibson, who played runaway alcoholic Lynn Henderson on the long-running soap Love of Life. "I really get it."

As a teenager, she was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that eventually fried her hair follicles, leaving her bald. Years later she parlayed her own journey of hair loss into a growing business. In March 2006 she launched Crown and Glory Enterprises, a Los Angeles boutique that produces high-end, customized wigs as well as international luxury line called Amy's Presence.

For her new venture, Gibson is extending a hand, or rather a few cap sizes, to trans women.

"It's important for them to understand that getting the right wig could be the answer to a lot of discomfort," Gibson says. "It truly is the finishing touch."

Her interest in the trans market ignited when she started hearing complaints that wig boutiques offered nothing feminine and durable in the range of larger cap sizes. With Amy's Presence, she now provides larger sizes (24 and 25) in up to eight different styles, with costs ranging from $1,600 to $2,500 per wig. The hairpieces also feature Cyber Hair, a revolutionary velvety material that when tousled remolds to its original form within 15 minutes. For the choosier athletic customer, a swim cap version is available that performs well in water.

"I don't want to call it a wig," says Stacy Alexeief, a 52-year-old Long Beach, Calif., resident. "A wig almost connotes something that's artificial. There's a lightness and flow to [the hairpieces] that's beyond human hair."

Alexeief, a transgender woman who owns three Amy's Presence wigs, sought Gibson's services after seeing her and her products on an episode of The Tyra Banks Show. The occasion seemed serendipitous to Alexeief, who'd just gone bald.

The swift new hairstyles marked a pointed about-face in Alexeief's life, since her previous wigs had rapidly degenerated into irreparable frizzing. Sporting Gibson's creations, she now receives attention for more desirable reasons.

"Usually, I get questions like, 'Gee, where did you get your highlighting done?' or 'What a great haircut,' " she says.

Alexeief's new look grew out of a one-on-one consultation with Gibson and helped ease her process of transitioning as a transgender woman. In Crown and Glory's intimate setting, Gibson personally evaluates each of her customer's needs in light of who they are as individuals.

"We talk about who [the customer] wants to be," Gibson says. "For instance, 'Are you going to be really active? If you're not, we can look at different styles.' I try to get to know who they are, what they're doing, what kind of piece I need to make to answer what they have in mind for themselves."

Ultimately, Gibson's trans customers search for variations of the same style -- the last step in feeling complete. She speaks of such fulfillment with careful articulation, the stake of which she cannot disconnect from her own life. "It's what you're going to run your hands through 18 times a day. It's what will make you feel like a woman."

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