RSF woman’s Quarantine Hair Share hopes to help children in need

Quarantine Hair Share co-founder Joyce Tang

Rancho Santa Fe resident Joyce Tang has started the grassroots campaign Quarantine Hair Share to help make free wigs for children with medical hair loss.

As Tang said, the global pandemic has severely affected the donations collected by charities, causing many to struggle to survive. With the stay-at-home measures, many people have also not been able to get a haircut or have chosen not to visit a salon due to safety concerns.

“Even though our lives have been put on hold, our hair has kept on growing,” said Tang, a health tech CEO and angel investor. “By donating to those in need, we can make our first post-quarantine haircuts more meaningful and bring a bit of joy and positivity to 2020.”

The fundraising campaign is a cause close to her heart as she lost an aunt and a childhood friend to cancer.

Last March, Tang volunteered at a Guinness World Record-setting hair donation event in downtown San Diego to benefit the group Children With Hair Loss. Dubbed “The Great Cut,” the all-day event was organized by The Longhairs, a San Diego-based grooming company. A total of 339 pounds of hair were donated during the event, surpassing the previous record by a pound.

Her hair was cut short at the time so she could not participate but the event gave Tang a wild hair: One day she would like to grow out her hair and donate to support such a worthy cause.

When the pandemic hit, months ticked by without a haircut and she was now inadvertently growing out her hair. She felt the time was right to just take it all the way and grow out to the required minimum length of eight inches for donation.

Tang shared her idea for a quarantine hair donation pledge on an online professional women’s forum and was stunned by the strangers who were willing to jump in and help. Like-minded volunteers such as Jen Rose, a tech writer in the Bay Area, and Crystal Dionysopoulos, a designer in Athens, Greece, rallied behind her cause to help build the Quarantine Hair Share campaign and an online presence.

“It’s way beyond my expectations,” Tang said of the people who have taken the pledge to donate their hair or contributed funds.

Quarantine Hair Share donor Carol shows off her new post-quarantine hair cut and donation.

As Tang has learned more about hair donation industry, she has learned more about the challenges they face, particularly the high cost of making the wigs. The cost of making a human hair wig can often cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000, so in addition to hair donations, hair charities are also in need of financial donations in order to produce these free wigs. Quarantine Hair Share has chosen to partner with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Hair We Share that makes 100% free wigs for children as well as adults who can’t afford them.

Tang’s hair was about jaw length when the quarantine began and right now it is draping below her shoulder. “It’s getting unwieldy!” she said. She plans to cut it around the beginning of January but if the COVID-19 situation worsens, she may continue to grow it for as long as is needed.

“It’s all about sharing love,” Tang said. “I’m excited to think that the silver lining to this pandemic quarantine is that there will be a wave of hair donations to kids who need it.”

For those who are not in the position to donate their hair, they can donate as little as $25 and receive a commemorative face mask, or custom-designed T-shirts and tote bags for other donation amounts.

For donation information, visit their website or Instagram @quarantinehairshare.