By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Discretion also the better part of wig making

Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg: Judyth Carr, who learned wig making more than 50 years ago as a teenager in Budapest, Hungary, says there's still nothing she'd rather be doing.

Hungarian artisan still plies her much-needed trade

Ventura County Star/July 20 2008

Diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1980, Judyth Carr knows all too well the hardships of living with cancer — especially when it comes to hair loss.

"I think it's the hardest thing to lose your hair — sometimes harder than facing the cancer," said Carr, 72.

Little did she know that a skill she learned at age 18 would help hundreds of men, women and children in the hair-loss community — including herself.

Since the 1950s, Carr has been making and styling custom-fit wigs — an art she learned in her homeland of Hungary from her first husband, Laszlo Bereny.

"There is no school for this," said Carr, who came to the United States in 1956 during the Hungarian revolution, with Bereny, a well-known wig maker in the movie and theater industry.

"When we got here, there were several businesses where wigs and hairpieces were made, not bought, because there was no such thing as a wig factory," said Carr of Thousand Oaks.

Wig factories began to open in the late 1970s, when the first synthetic wigs came out — "then slowly, more and more factories opened, mostly in Asia," she said.

Before Carr's husband died in 1979, they owned a prominent wig salon in Studio City called Laszlo's Hairgoods.

Over the years, Carr practiced the craft with Laszlo's and another nearby salon in the San Fernando Valley. Carr also owned and operated a wholesale hair-goods business in Beverly Hills before moving to the Conejo Valley.

"My second husband, John Carr, and I met when I moved to Thousand Oaks in 1993," said Carr, who was married for only five months before he died from lung cancer in 1995. "I opened my salon after my husband passed away."

Today, Carr continues to work full time in her private practice, Wigs by Judyth Carr, which is in an industrial business center in Newbury Park.

In the business of wigs, the practice truly is private; discretion and confidentiality are vital, Carr said.

"I always had a back door in all my salons; this is a very important thing for the clients," she said. "Here I share my office with my son and daughter-in-law — they own an insurance agency — so if a man comes in here to see me, everybody just thinks he is buying insurance."

Her clients' anonymity, she said, "is primary to our business relationship. No one will ever know what he or she has gone through."

Aside from the privacy, what makes her business unique is that there are no more real wig makers around, she said.

"Everyone is either a technician, hairdresser or barber," said Carr, who does wig repairs and hair additions as well as handmade extensions.

She also sells some pieces that are ready-made.

"Your average wig shop maybe has one person who knows how to add hair to an existing hairpiece; most of the time they send it to the factory, which takes several weeks."

She has about 350 regular clients, including chemotherapy patients as well as some she sees only one time.

"I do not do a lot of fashion work; that is not my forte," said Carr, who works five days a week by appointment only. "I work with people who really need it."

For more information about Wigs by Judyth Carr, go to http://www.judythcarr.com.


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