HQ Wigs TOO provides comfort, and hair, to chemotherapy patients

Cathy Ketchum, left, at HQ Wigs TOO, Escondido.

Cathy Ketchum is flying down Grand Avenue on a wig and a dream.

“I just love the work I do with chemo patients,” Ketchum said. “I want to go over and above making them feel good about themselves.”

Ketchum has a lot of experience helping cancer patients although she isn’t a medical professional or health care worker. In some ways, though, her work sometimes can seem equally important.

It’s a psychological boost, a helpful port during a stormy crisis, something that helps people feel better about themselves despite dire circumstances.

 Cathy Ketchum, who owns HQ Wigs TOO, stops by Consignment4U with pet Dazzle to say hello daughter-in-law-to-be Crystal Hanson

Cathy Ketchum, who owns HQ Wigs TOO, stops by Consignment4U with pet Dazzle to say hello daughter-in-law-to-be Crystal Hanson

Ketchum is a wig expert. She opened HQ Wigs TOO at 105 W. Grand Avenue in July. Four hundred wigs, mainly for cancer patients, later, Ketchum provides wigs with empathy, wanting to do her part in making people feel better about themselves even with hair falling out due to chemotherapy and various cancer treatments.

With Ketchum, it’s personal.

“Its very heart-wrenching,” Ketchum said. “I lost my older sister to ovarian cancer, My younger sister had brain cancer, My mom is a breast cancer survivor. I see the turmoil they go through. Most women when they come in here, they feel they’re going bald.

“I just want to get the word out there for cancer patients,” Ketchum said. “I’ve even come to work on my day off if something was needed. I’m very empathetic.”

The process involving shaping wigs and cutting them carefully to go along with style and desire can take an hour or longer. A free cut and style us included with all chemotherapy wig sales. Sometimes, Ketchum will come into the store on a day off if someone is in immediate need for a wig. A close association with Jon Renau, a Vista wig-maker, also ensures quick fulfillment of emergency orders with Ketchum able to get a wig to a patient within a day.

HQ Wigs TOO is in the same spot as The Big Wig on Grand Avenue

HQ Wigs TOO is in the same spot as The Big Wig on Grand Avenue

The one-on-one nature of designing and selling a wig can take on a spiritual dimension as well.

“I never ask them what type of cancer they have,” Ketchum said. “If they want me to know, they tell me. I have a big faith in God, but really don’t to stress it. Sometimes, I’ll talk about the big guy up there to comfort them.”

Ketchum also started a non-profit group called “Look Great, Feel Great.” The non-profit has donated 50 wigs to women in need.

Ketchum has been working with wigs for 30 years. She owned and operated her own salon Headquarters Salon, Spa and Wig Store in Twin Oaks Valley Center for many year.s Turning 65, she wanted to downsize her business and concentrate on wigs., she said

Ketchum started shopping around for a wigs-only shop, finding it, fittingly enough on Grand Avenue. The former home of The Big Wig, a longtime Grand Avenue store that closed a few years ago was available. Also fittingly enough, Ketchum worked at The Big Wig when she first moved to San Marcos.

It was kiss meet met on the wig front, but all was not sunshine and roses. Ketchum’s nest egg was tied up in the San Marcos salon. She found a buyer for the business, also assuming a two year lease.

The buyer backed out of the deal two days before closing last month. Ketchum is scrambling to find another buyer for the 2,700-square-foot, fully equipped turn-key salon with room for seven stylists and manicurists..

As for the wig trade, it’s full speed ahead on the grand avenue.

Wigs sell from $135 to $2,500, $4,000 more. Human hair wigs at start at $850. They;re realistic but cost means most people don’t invest in them.

New heat-defiant synthetic fiber wigs are new and very popular. they start at $225 and feel very much like human hair, even reacting like hair to the weather and such. Ketchum carries the top wig lines including Raquel Welch and Ava Gabor as well as the local Jon Renau.

Originally from Lansing and suburban Detroit, Michigan, Ketchum went to beauty school in 1967 and started doing salon work full-time in 1969. The road was somewhat complicated on the way to Escondido.

Inside the shop

Inside the shop

“My mom wanted to get re-married,” Ketchum said. “I was a single mom myself. She wanted to go to Florida, I moved to California to look after my step-dad. He died and my mom was in Florida by herself, when she got breast cancer, She came here and has been here with me for14 years.”

It’s all in an entrepreneurial family. One sone, Jeremy Ketchum operates a shop in Colorado Springs, colorado. Another son, read that other story, Chris McClintock owns and operates Consignment 4U a few doors down Grand Avenue.

For more information call (760) 689-9447 or visit https://sanmarcoshair.wix.com/wigs.