BEAUTY: Salon owner shows devotion to customers by shaving her head

Cathy Leite, owner of Alicia's Beauty Supply, wears wigs to better understand her customers. Submitted photos.

By Alana Richelle, WPRO Contributor

Cathy Leite is devoted to providing the best service to her customers, even if it means shaving her own head.

Leite own Alicia’s Beauty Shop in North Kingstown, a salon that offers several options – wigs, wig alternatives, and bandanas, among other things – to those who are experiencing hair troubles.

Leite loves her work and is extremely dedicated to her business. Because of this, six months after opening she shaved off her long locks to better understand what her customers were experiencing. She now wears wigs every day.

She has since removed her hair twice, both times to assist her customers. Leite recalls having a pajama party with a young girl who needed her hair removed. They periodically cut each other’s hair throughout the night. Most recently she removed her hair alongside another woman undergoing the same procedure so that the customer did not have to go through it alone.

Leite understands first-hand that removing someone’s hair can be a traumatic process, and believes it should always be done gradually. She never charges someone who needs their hair removed.

Leite, a licensed cosmetologist, previously worked at a traditional salon that also offered services to women with hair loss. At this job Leite said she “fell in love with a new side of cosmetology” by helping those who had hair loss difficulties.

“Many of the wig shops in Rhode Island are very expensive and do not provide personalized service,” said Leite. She wanted to start her own shop that was “affordable, comfortable, and accommodating.”

As a result, she opened Alicia’s Beauty Shop as a solo endeavor in September 2010.

To date, there are three other women in the shop who work together as team members. Theresa Petrarca, owner of Details by Terri and a licensed cosmetologist, joined Leite shortly after the shop opened in 2010. Joanne Brouillette, also a cosmetologist, joined the partnership in September 2011, bringing in her own business, Hair Designs by Joanne. The most recent addition to the team is Nicole Vanasse, owner of Hair Peace, a business which makes hair pieces. Although they are separate businesses, these four women work together to find a solution to those experiencing thin hair or hair loss.

Leite herself focuses on wig consulting and cosmetology. She personally takes care of anyone that comes in for an appointment or a private consultation.

“I do not just sell wigs to my customers,” she said. “I provide many different services that customize and specialize the wig.”

Leite stresses the importance of having options for her clients. She not only offers full wigs, but partial wigs, top pieces, turbans, accessories and hats. Clients also have the option of deciding between human or synthetic hair.

Leite said that there are ‘five c’s’ that she goes through with every client to help them decide what kind of hair piece is right for them: “cut, color, cost, care, and construction.”

When she is not helping clients, she is cutting, sewing, texturizing, adding, and removing hair from wigs.  

Although the shop was named after her daughter, the real Alicia is 23 and independent. Leite states that her shop is now her baby, and refers to working there as a “labor of love.”

For more information on Alicia's beauty shop, call 294-1577 or click here.