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May 12, 2021

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

SALISBURY — When a customer steps into Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things, they’re crossing into more than just a wig boutique — they’re entering a safe space.

“For me, most important was the experience and making sure that every person who walks through these doors knew that they are valued,” said Dileika Wilson-Ballard, the store’s owner. “That this was a safe place for them, that it’s a no-judgement, stress-free, no self-deprecation zone.”

Curating a comfortable, positive place for clients has been Ballard-Wilson’s primary goal since she opened the shop with her mother, Marva Wilson, five years ago.

A safe space is something Ballard-Wilson didn’t find when she walked into a wig shop in Maryland years ago, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. After a callous encounter with salespeople in the shop, she left in tears.

Since she founded Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things, Wilson-Ballard has worked to give her customers a place they can find shelter, and a new look, during a time of vulnerability.

“Especially for those who it’s a sudden thing or their hair was ingrained as part of their identity, they are traumatized when it comes to this,” Wilson-Ballard said. “For us, it’s about being able to give them a ‘woosah’ moment, a warm environment for them to know it’s ok.”

Wilson-Ballard started the business on a whim, leaving behind a job in human resources at a company in Winston-Salem. She purchased OK Wigs, which occupied a shop at the intersection of Main Street and Innes on the square downtown. She didn’t stay in the spot for long before moving the boutique to its current home at 121 W. Innes St.

Not long after starting Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things, Wilson-Ballard bought the inventory of New Hair wig shop in China Grove. Karen Ridenhour, the owner of the shop, was looking to leave the business after inheriting it from Becky Sifford.

The decision to purchase the additional inventory was a gamble for Wilson-Ballard, since New Hair’s wigs were higher quality, medical-grade wigs.

“Adding high-end (wigs) was risky because you really don’t see wig boutiques that cater to both,” Wilson-Ballard said. “It’s either, or. You have a high-end wig boutique and you have a wig store.”

Wading into the world of high-end wigs was particularly daunting for someone of color, Wilson-Ballard said.

“For us to do a wig boutique that catered to both was risky, not just because we were building it and will they come, but doing it as a minority owner where the majority of the high-end stuff isn’t marketed toward us,” Wilson-Ballard said.

The gambit appears to have paid off. Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrated its fifth anniversary on Friday. To honor the occasion, the shop is hosting several enter-to-win giveaways on its Facebook page.

Looking back at the past half decade, Wilson-Ballard is proud of the way she’s been able to adapt and persevere in an industry that can be difficult, especially for locally owned businesses.

“This business is a hard business to be in because it’s a high overhead business,” Wilson-Ballard said. “Your discounts come by volume. We’re a smaller store. We can’t purchase with the buy power that a lot of companies can, so we can’t compete with some of their pricing.

Instead of trying to sell a high number of wigs, Wilson-Ballard decided to focus on the customer experience.

“Our niche has been those who want that hands-on customer service,” Wilson-Ballard said.

Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things offered private appointments for years, but switched solely to scheduling one-on-one sessions with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The change, while forced, has been positive.

“It’s been amazing to see how we pivoted how my customers really love that,” Wilson-Ballard said.

Sifford, a friend and business confidant of Wilson-Ballard’s, said she is impressed with how she’s been able to adapt to the pandemic.

“(Wilson-Ballard) changed her whole thought process by having private appointments,” Sifford said. “And she ended up actually loving that. Now, most of her patients who have hair needs are able to have a private session and open up to her.”

Many of Wilson-Ballard’s customers will spend well over an hour seated in a chair in front of a mirror in her shop, trying on new looks. Oftentimes, hair appointments turn into therapy sessions.

“Inevitably, we turn into counselors, we turn into a little bit of everything in here,” Wilson-Ballard said.

The pandemic has shifted more than just Wilson-Ballard’s business practices. It’s changed her customer base. She said she’s helped many people who suddenly lost their hair after recovering from COVID-19, or others who have been looking at themselves on a computer camera and want a change.

Wilson-Ballard said she is ready for some of her regular customers to come back to the shop, whether it’s for a wig, a piece of jewelry, or to see her beloved dog, Halo. 

Even when the pandemic subsides, Wilson-Ballard will likely keep the shop closed to the public for private appointments only several days a week. On the other days, she’ll open up for casual shoppers.

Wilson-Ballard credited the Salisbury community with supporting her for five years and also wanted to thank the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.

Appointment at Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things can be made by calling 704-633-0169.

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