Hair is Quilla Bohannon’s passion; it has been since she was a schoolgirl, feigning attending after-school extracurricular activities so she could braid the hair of her classmates for extra spending money, as she told The Glow Up:
I like to say I got the gift of doing hair from my grandmother. ... The first time I actually had a client, I was probably about 11 or 12. I used to tell my mom I was staying after school for track and cheerleading, [but] in reality, [my friends] were paying me their allowance money and I was braiding their hair.
After continuing to hone her talents while attending college at Tulane University in New Orleans (“instead of going to class, I was doing everybody’s hair,” she told us), Bohannon is now putting her innate talent to use, leveraging her Atlanta-based home salon, Runway Hair, to create wigs for children suffering from hair loss; a project she says started about three weeks ago at the urging of her own six-year-old daughter, Alexy:
It was something that I always said that I wanted to do, and my 6-year old-daughter basically manifested it one day. ... She [would] always come downstairs while I was working on adult wigs and lace fronts, and she’s like, “Oh my God, Mommy, you’re so talented. What about the kids with no hair? Do you think you could make a kid wig?
Bohannon, who is an entirely self-taught hairstylist and wigmaker (“if I see it, I can do it,” she said), believed she could, and using Alexy’s head as a mold, began a prototype for a child experiencing hair loss that she’d been following on social media. Inspired by the joy she brought to that family, Bohannon then launched a GoFundMe campaign to help support the purchase of more supplies, which include high-quality human hair.
Initially aiming to raise $5,000, Bohannon impressively exceeded her fundraising goal by nearly 50 percent in two days, and has since received over 2,500 requests for children’s wigs—some from as far as Thailand and the Philippines.
“They’ve sent me videos of their alopecia and how they’ve gone bald,” she told us. “Everybody suffers from hair loss, but I never thought it was [affecting] all ethnicities.”
To meet the demand, Bohannon has enlisted the help of her family, whom she has taught to assist her in creating each hand-tied lace front wig. She’s also now hoping to create a formal nonprofit:
With a nonprofit, I know I can get more funding and I can bring on extra help. Right now, my family—my mom, my sister, everybody—has a hand in helping me make [wigs]; I’ve taught them how to do certain things, and everybody pretty much has a role. ... I want to turn it into a nonprofit because I want everybody to be able to get a wig, even if we have to do two to three children per month. It could be done; the help is there.
If she’s successful, Bohannon will be helping to fill a much-needed gap in the hairpiece donation market, where parents have told her that even at well-known nonprofits, wigs for children with hair loss are no longer free, purportedly now costing up to $1,800 per hairpiece.
While the process of handcrafting each wig is tedious and time-consuming (in addition to running her own successful salon and being a single mom to Alexy) Bohannon is committed to continuing to create these confidence-restoring pieces for kids in need, allowing them and their parents to personalize the look by picking out their own styles, which include age-appropriate looks like “braids and beads, and lots of ponytails,” she said.
Bohannon’s GoFundMe is still open, but aside from monetary donations, she also accepts hair donations from people who want to help out, providing them with detox instructions beforehand, and eventually, pictures of the finished product on the child it was gifted to. She also happily accepts beads, hair bows, and anything hair accessory-related to customize each wig.
Having found a way to put her life’s work to philanthropic use, Bohannon is passionate about garnering the support she needs to keep it going, telling us, “I have not made enough noise; I’m going to get this out there, one way or the other, and I’m going to keep, keep, keep, keep, keep pushing it until everybody is on board.”
The Glow Up tip: Interested in making a non-monetary donation to Bohannon’s cause? You can contact her via Instagram or mail supplies to: Runway Hair by Quilla, P.O. Box 90, Lithia Springs, Ga 30122