ARNELL IGNACIOManila, august 2, 2003 (MALAYA) WE'RE always hearing about celebrities going into business, putting up restaurants, parlors, gyms, spas, and boutiques.What makes popular TV personality, singer and comedian Arnell Ignacio different is that his heart is so much into his hairpiece business - Hairwear by Arnelli.

"Ang sarap sarap pala ng pakiramdam ng ganito, para kang nakapagpagaling sa maysakit," seriously describes the comedian on just how rewarding it is to see his clients satisfied and happy with themselves because of their new "look."

Arnell, the host of GMA-7's top-rating game show, "K! The One Million Peso Videoke Challenge," is obviously fired up with his newest venture. Whereas other stars go into a business without even having a basic know-how about the enterprise, Arnell has not only a diploma but also the experience to back him up. It's really no wonder since he has been wearing a wig for about twelve years now. Heredity accounted to his experiencing thinning hair at an early age so even before Arnell entered the vain glorious world of showbiz, he was already spending lots of money and even experimenting with over-the-counter medicine just to counter his receding hairline.

"I was even injecting myself on the head with the medicine used by dermatologists to induce hair growth but it didn't work," he relates, describing just how desperate he was then to save his crowning glory.

He tried several medicines like minoxidil, a popular topical lotion prescribed for those with thinning hair, and a drug which he says produced results - hair growth - but at the expense of your libido.

He also bought the expensive programs of popular hair centers but it turned out to be another expensive - not the mention harrowing - exercise.

"Bili ka ng bili ng mga kung anu-anong mamahaling gamot na mamasahihin sa scalp mo tapos ang ending o-offer-an ka rin wig. Sa umpisa akala mo talaga okay kasi mukha talagang mahal pero tingnan mo," Arnell proceeds to show a portion of his scalp which is totally bald, "Ang gagawin nila i-wi-weave ang buhok mo. Masakit iyon! Tapos hihilahin so ang mangyayari mabubunot ang buhok mo."

So Arnell wore wigs, but this posed a problem for the performer, too. For those with a full head of hair, wearing wigs seem like a breeze. You just put it on, style it a little and you're off. But that just is not the case. There was definitely no way Arnell could ride a vehicle top down, as in motorcades, for fear of his hairpiece being blown by the wind, nor could he share a room with another artist in out-of-town shows. So at the risk of being tagged as suplado by promoters and producers, Arnell just had to insist on these conditions.

As they say, practice makes perfect. Arnell is putting to good use the things he's learned from the years of experimenting with his condition. He was prodded by Hair Majesty Ricky Reyes to put up Hairwear in Mother Ricky's Beauty Central during a chance meeting in Greenhills. But apart from Arnell's practical know-how, Mother Ricky practically took him under his wing and made him study in Hong Kong.

Hairwear by Arnelli sells customized hairpieces that are handmade in Europe. On a client's initial visit, his measurements and hair specifications will be noted and conveyed to the manufacturer in Germany. After three weeks, the customer is fitted and styled with his custom-made wig made from real human hair. "My shop is sandwiched by Mother Ricky's beauty parlor and hair salon so the client can have his hair done professionally - permed, colored, cut, streaked, blow-dried immediately," says Arnell.

He explains that after several testing, only European, Indian and Indonesian hairs proved to be the best samples for processing. "'Yung Pinoy hair gets brittle after processing. Ang Chinese hair naman, sobrang tibay.

"Ang behavior ng wigs namin ay parang sa tunay na buhok at ang principle nito ay ganun din kasi tunay ito'ng buhok," he explains. "Of course, hindi nga lang siya humahaba."

The wigs are either put in place with clips or adhesive which may be enough for a day' wear, a week or as long as a month, although Arnell removes his every night to prevent dirt from accumulating on his scalp. He also uses a shampoo for his wig that he prescribes to his clients.

A hairpiece lasts up to a year and costs anywhere from P12,000 to P22,000 compared to the hundreds of thousands of pesos that one usually shell out to undergo "hair-weaving." He is itching to make hairpieces for a lot of celebrities but he assures that Hairwear by Arnelli caters to all sorts of people and not just the famous, although now he is doing the hair extensions (they offer that, too) of Ara Mina and Aiko Melendez and, yes, making a wig for Jomari Yllana!

"Ay! Ngayon ko lang napagtanto na baka nga pala mag-abut-abot ang mga kliyente ko," he exclaims.

Arnell himself does the measuring of the clients. "Sa tagal na na ginagawa ko ito, alam ko na kung alin dapat ang makapal at alin 'yung konti lang talaga ang buhok. Kapag tumingin ka kasi sa tunay na buhok, hindi naman pantay-pantay ang kapal niyan. May part na mas makapal, may part na hindi. What's also good about our hairpieces is that pwede mong ilipat-lipat ang hati niya na hindi mo magagawa sa synthetic wigs," he explains and gleefully demonstrates.

The shop's clientele ranges from businessmen to housewives, even those who are undergoing radiation treatments. Since Arnell knows firsthand how it is to be bald, Hairwear by Arnelli's marketing approach is very personal and discreet. His marketing team is giving incentives to street hawkers who can refer clients to Hairwear. All the magmamani or magbabalot has to do is sign up and register at the shop to get anywhere from 3% incentive to P30,000.

"'Yung mga magdyadyaryo... sila talaga kasi ang nakakalapit sa mga tao dahil sila ang mga nasa daan, 'di ba?" he says.

He feels so passionate about his new business but he is not about to turn his back on showbiz. He is now under Wyngard Tracy's Artistation and happy that his show is on its second year and is rating well.

"Alam ko dapat isang season lang ito, pero nung makita ko ang pinalabas na list ng top-rating shows ratings ng kabilang channel, aba, kami lang ang pumasok sa top 10!" he says.

(Hairwear by Arnelli is located at the 2nd level of the Greenlanes Beauty Central, Greenhills, San Juan with telephone numbers 723-2891 and 723-6171).

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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