Source: GMN Atlanticville
Wig Illusions, in Manalapan, was founded by Elizabeth (Betty) Melillo in 1985. The business is now owned by Betty’s daughter-in-law, Lucy Melillo. As she marks the business’s 30 years of operation, Lucy recalls how Betty, who was a wig stylist her entire life, founded Wig Illusions in space at Kilmer Plaza in Marlboro.
“It was a chair, a shower curtain and everything was ordered by mail,” she says. “She needed a little help washing and setting wigs, so when I was home with (my) babies, I would do that work for her. As soon as my youngest child went into preschool, I started coming in, and worked an apprenticeship with her for many years.”
In 2006, Betty decided to retire. “She gave me the option of buying the business. I was very scared because I didn’t know the business aspects,” Lucy Melillo says. “It was super tough for me — did I want to stay in the cancer field? Because I suffered for a year with my sister and as soon as my sister passed away my mom got diagnosed and passed away five months later — I was so saddened. But I decided the women here, (and) the rewards I get from my job, are (worth it).” Betty Melillo died in 2014.
Lucy’s advice to people facing the prospect of hair loss is not to wait. “A lot of times, doctors will say, ‘you’re only going to be thin, you’ll be OK,’ and they come in here crying because their hair is coming out.”
“For anybody who is going to go through chemotherapy, I recommend that before they start treatment, they make an appointment; that is very important. Sooner is better than later. If they come to me (before treatment), they will have everything prepared.”
The process starts with an appointment and a free consultation, though walk-ins are also welcome. Lucy also advises individuals coming in for a wig for fashion reasons is to cut out pictures of the look they would like to achieve.
Client Marie Pellicone said it is that compassion that has made Wig Illusions a success. “Lucy takes care of all of her clients — she takes the time and she has the understanding for people’s needs. Whether it is medical or just a beauty aspect, people come from all over to be with her because she’s that good at what she does, and it’s the human feeling that comes across from her that makes the difference,” she says.
Items available at Wig Illusions include head coverings, hats, scarves, sleep caps, turbans, wig spray and more. All wig services are offered on the premises.
Lucy Melillo said her clients are her top priority.
“I think about what happened to me before I took over the business, with caring for my sister and caring for my mother. When people walk in, I know exactly what they are thinking, what they are feeling, their emotions, because I have been through it,” she says. “If I can make you look good and you can feel good, I’ve done my job.”
Wig Illusions is located at 339 US Highway 9 South in Manalapan; phone 732-431-9629.