Everyone rallies when a friend is sick. In Sherri Renée Romm’s case, a friend’s cancer diagnosis in 1992 inspired great generosity on her part—Romm created a wig for her, a kindness that led to a hair empire that now reaches across the United State into Canada and Barbados.
Versacchi Studios—Romm’s “lab”—is her salon based in Owings Mills, where she also teaches hands-on workshops for stylists interested in learning her technique.
“When my friend got sick, she went to a wig store and she bought a wig and she never wore it and she didn’t go out,” says Romm, who worked for many years as an engineer before earning a fine arts degree in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).
Romm was determined to create a piece for her friend that would boost her self-esteem—and she did, using her own painting skills. “She loved it,” Romm says of the end result. That’s when she knew working with hair was for her, because it combined all of her skills and passions into one.
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve always done things and created things with my hands and found objects—you know, whatever was around I could use and kind of reassemble and repurpose,” she says.
She brought her arts education to that repurposing instinct, employing the painting technique of chiaroscuro—with attention to lights and darks—as she paints the hair.
“We’re applying all of the fine arts—even the sculpting, the way we cut the hair, how much hair to put in,” she says. “All of that really is born from the fine arts if you’re going to do it right.”
To get the technique right, Romm played around with different materials to make her wigs look more realistic—and feel cooler—than traditional ones. Her day-to-day work with clients inspired a whole line of related products.
Along with the educational influence, Romm also brings a personal understanding to this issue. About nine years ago, she dealt with hair loss herself due to a tumor on her thyroid. That experience led directly to her Parisian Hair Enhancement Collection, a line of products made with Parisian silk, lace and organic cotton products to address spot hair loss as well as total hair loss. Today, clients have their picks from bang pieces, clip-ins, crown pieces, the French Volu, partial wigs, full wigs, ponytails and more.
Each hairpiece is custom colored and cut by a professional, so they aren’t sold online. But Romm does keep a stock of her most popular “pre-custom” designs; for clients with cancer, for example, who need a full enhancement, “you can’t wait eight weeks for a custom order to come in, so I have stock in that,” she says. “A stylist does all the coloring technique to make it look like that person’s hair.”
The prices for Romm’s creations range from $795 and up, which Romm says is “extremely fair.” After all, Romm says, hair can make a huge difference: “When you give somebody their hair back, some of the wrinkles soften, it balances out their body, it gives them character.”
Romm’s technique and custom, individual-centered approach has become so popular, she’s developed a following among fellow stylists, who take classes from her and read her books on chiaroscuro and alternative hair. She’s now partnered with more than 20 salons. “We’re just really spreading our wings out,” she says, “so it gives me great feedback that we’re on the right path.”