Gail Bernardo

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | May 22nd, 2018
Gail Bernardon (Photos by Shanita Dixon)

Gail Bernardon (Photos by Shanita Dixon)

On January 24, 2018, Gail Bernardo invited her family, close friends, and a few special clients to her home for an impromptu get together. Both Christmas and the New Year had passed, and it certainly wasn’t her birthday. So, when people arrived, they saw a cake, balloons, and other celebratory décor. They were all confused as to what was going on. Years prior, Gail had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, and had endured rounds of chemotherapy. In the process, she lost her energy, her ability to work for several months, and her hair. Considering she’s the owner of Invisilace Hair Spa, shedding her hair was a struggle she had only treated others for, not experienced herself.

When everyone arrived, she proudly revealed that on the previous day, her doctors notified her that she was cancer-free. Her health was on the mend and she could finally lead a life void of chemo treatments and worry. Needless to say, her loved ones were all overjoyed. The ones that showed support by transporting her to doctor visits, calling to check on her, or just spending time with her while she was out of work, could now celebrate and rejoice.

“I had lots of support from everyone. But Nikki Brown and Flora Jones ran the business while I was out. They kept it going and I can’t thank them enough,” says Gail. Throughout the process, Gail was on leave from her business for only six months. When she returned, she had a new appreciation for her clients and the struggles they face.

The 57-year-old survivor confesses, when her clients would tell her how they felt after losing their hair, that she never took it seriously. She would simply say, “Oh you’ll be ok. As long as you have your lace wig, you’ll be fine.” But later she clearly understood that it’s more about self-esteem, confidence, and how you feel. She felt sad when she lost her hair. She took her lengthy mane for granted, until she couldn’t anymore. That’s when she knew she had not connected with her clients and decided to apologize to them.

“I often wondered why God does the things he does, such as putting me in the position to be without hair, letting me see what my clients go through everyday. And how he put me where they were. It was so that I could get a chance to experience the people that I service,” Gail realizes. For most people, hair is usually worn like a crown; One they cherish, maintain, and style with pride. What the licensed natural hair stylist takes pride in, is making her clients feel normal.

Within the last several years, Gail has secured contracts with the VA Hospital to supply veterans who have battled hair loss as well as donated hair units to the Alopecia Foundation. It’s obvious that she enjoys what she does and now that she has been this road, she can truly say, “I understand.” Now she does more outreach; she educates others and shares her story of survival. She has also vowed to help more people learn about hair loss of all kinds and travels all over the country to train others on the business. A large majority of her classes are held locally and can be completed within two days or 15 hours. At $1400, Gail teaches how to install (and remove), care for, select products, and run a business, among other skills. After successful completion of the course, the student becomes a certified Lacetition and receives a hair unit of their choice. Gail doesn’t stop there, she can also serve as a distributor to ensure the client is receiving quality products.
She is currently preparing to travel more and spread her love of alternative hair options, so she’d like to increase the support at her spa and add more natural stylists. “I’m looking for someone who has a passion for hair who is already licensed or who I can train to help them get licensed,” she explains.

Gail knows she can’t overdo it though. Taking on less clients and having more time to herself helps her maintain a healthy lifestyle. She remembers what it felt like when her body was crying out for help on the medication during her illness. She is grateful to be rid of the side effects she experienced. Tingling in her feet plagued her often. She also experienced weight gain and retained fluid. All the while, her closest family members were there. Her husband, two daughters, and a special cousin, Lorna, never left her side.

I can tell that she appreciates the strife God placed in her path. Her love for herself and the clients she serviced were magnified beyond what she could have ever imagined. Now when she encounters someone new she can embrace them with deeper awareness. She views her business in a new light. In fact, her motto is, “Faith goes beyond what your eyes can see.” In hearing Gail Bernardo’s story, I can certainly attest to that.

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