Sherri Renée Romm makes great hair days a reality for every woman.

Sherri Renee Romm has the sort of hair that many women dream of. It’s long, blond, expertly highlighted, perfectly styled and complements her eyes and friendly smile.

Seated in front of her easel in jeans and bare feet, surrounded by art supplies and her golden retriever, Kahlo, Romm looks every bit the artist. But listen to her speak and you’ll know she’s also a shrewd businesswoman who is serious about her craft.

The founder of Sherri Renee Alternative Hair Couture and owner of Versacchi Studios salon in Owings Mills, she has combined her passions for art, design and problem-solving to build a career.

Since then, Romm, a Randallstown native, has completely reimagined the alternative hair industry, introducing some of the techniques used in fine art to create hair enhancements for women that look, feel and mimic real hair.

In 1992, after a friend developed breast cancer, Romm saw her become severely depressed due to physical and emotional changes caused by chemotherapy. One of the worst side effects of the chemo was the loss of her hair. Romm tried to help her friend find an attractive wig, but everything they found looked frumpy, synthetic and unflattering.

“There was nothing out there,” recalls Romm. “I felt horrible for her.”

Romm, who holds degrees in computer engineering from the University of Maryland and fine art from the Maryland Institute College of Art, knew she could help. She made a mold of her friend’s head and used it to design and engineer a highly realistic hair enhancement that improved her friend’s morale and defined her own future.

Romm’s process incorporates chiaroscuro, a Renaissance painting technique that uses light and shade, to make each enhancement look and move like natural, growing hair. She combines chiaroscuro with her patented silk trompe l’oeil scalp replica process, securing the hair to a flexible base made of Parisian silk, which keeps a woman’s head cool and dry. The edges of the base are trimmed with French lace for a comfortable enhancement that fits seamlessly and is perfectly suited for the woman wearing it.

As she watched her friend’s spirits rise, Romm says she knew she had found her calling. “I get to work with people using my artistic talents to help [them],” she says.

Romm creates customized medical wigs for salons, which she’s grown into a line of more than 20 styles of handmade, patented, 100 percent human hair enhancements. There are enhancements for every woman, whether they have fine hair, are recovering from an illness, have alopecia (an autoimmune condition causing hair loss) or just want to change their style. Romm designs extensions and full-coverage enhancers, as well as bangs, falls, ponytails and crowns, for volume, lift, length, fullness, color and even highlights.

When Carolyn Eanet learned that Romm — who had been cutting and coloring her hair for more than 15 years — wore enhancements, she knew she wanted one. Eanet now owns several, and the one she wears depends on her mood and needs, from extra lift or volume to managing a cowlick and covering up her gray roots.

“It is undetectable and so versatile,” says Eanet. “I feel that they truly enhance my entire look.”

Another client named Patty (who preferred not disclosing her last name) calls her enhancement “life-altering.” She has thin hair and believes Romm’s alternative hair couture has saved her time, energy and angst.

“Sherri Renee is an extremely talented artist, as well as an ingenious engineer,” says Patty. “Her products are made using the highest quality materials and look incredibly natural. The pieces help you look like your best self.”

With all she is involved in, it’s no wonder Romm only sleeps four to five hours each night. In addition to the enhancements, she still cuts and colors hair at Versacchi Studios several days a week, speaks at conferences and has developed a salon partnership program and training program to educate stylists about her methods.

She’s also creating a web-based training program for her partner salons, and her Sherri Renee & Co. brand has a strong presence on social media.

Romm says she wants to see a return to the wig culture of the 1960s and a change in the perception of hair enhancements to eliminate the stigma attached to wearing them. It appears she is on her way, using her mind and her paintbrush to enhance women’s beauty and inspiring them to “embrace alternative hair, for fashion, function and modern convenience.”

Top photo: Sherri Renee Romm: “I get to work with people using my artistic talents to help [them].” (Photo by Steve Ruark)

For information, visit sherrirenee.com/home.html.

Faye Rivkin is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.

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