Those were the first thoughts that went through my head when I ripped open the box containing my new WunderWig.
Actually, that’s not true. My first thought was “Oh my gosh, this is so cute!” I have bought quite a few wigs since my wedding; however, this is the first one that came hanging upside down on a hot pink hanger, tucked into its own custom-made travel bag. Then again, the fact that WunderWigs come adorably and conveniently packaged should come as no surprise considering that WunderWig is definitely not your conventional sheitel.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so allow me to backtrack a little.
The first time I heard of WunderWig was last summer when I saw lots of Instagram posts talking about this cool new sheitel, but I had no idea what made this wig unique. I just knew that people were wearing their WunderWig all over and that there seemed to be plenty of others who were waiting excitedly to get their hands on one. Curious, I contacted the creator of the WunderWig, Yonit Wenick, to hear more about her fascinating creation and the story of how it came to be.
Yonit, who was born in Mexico and grew up in Monsey, has been making custom wigs for 20 years. It was a skill she acquired when she was living in Israel after she got married, and when she moved to Montreal, she went into the wig business, doing repairs and designing her own pieces. There was one sheitel model that Yonit wanted and it was one that didn’t exist – something that could be styled into a high pony or bun, and would be comfortable, lightweight and easy to maintain. Knowing that there was only one way to get what she wanted, Yonit set out to design it.
“It took me two years to perfect the WunderWig,” Yonit told Olam Yehudi. “I wanted a pony that would be high, not down at the nape of the neck. I started on a prototype of my own, and the result was great but it was too heavy on my head. I kept modifying the design trying to get the wig exactly the way I wanted it.”
It took 20 tries and endless hours for a Chinese manufacturer to produce a sample that met Yonit’s high standards, ensuring that everything about the sheitel would feel as good as it looked.
“Half the time they didn’t understand what I wanted, so I had to do it myself and then send it back to them,” recalled Yonit.
Eventually Yonit came up with a solid prototype and, after wearing it herself, she took the plunge and began her first production of 300 WunderWigs. The wigs came in 14- and 16-inch lengths, with straight or wavy hair, in four different head sizes and nine different colors. Not only did the WunderWig website feature a helpful video showing how to wear the wig, a second video showed how to wash it so that women can wear it one day, wash it themselves and then be able to put it back on again the very next day.
Yonit and her husband held their collective breath hoping that her idea would catch on.
“We prayed,” said Yonit.
But it was slow going at first. A series of trunk shows in the New York area yielded disappointing results, but despite her slow sales, Yonit refused to give up on her dream.
“I believed in my product and I knew that its success was in Hashem’s hands,” said the 39-year-old mother of five.
Many of Yonit’s early WunderWig sales came from out-of-town communities where women appreciated its comfort and practicality, but just before Pesach 2016 things began to fall into place and WunderWigs suddenly became the talk of the town.
“There were a few cool girls in Brooklyn who had bought WunderWigs from local representatives and they posted pictures of themselves on Instagram,” said Yonit. “Suddenly our Facebook and Instagram went crazy and all these new reps wanted to sell our product.”
Practically overnight Yonit found herself no longer wondering how she was ever going to sell her product to being inundated with orders that went far beyond her existing inventory. She placed a rush overseas order for a large number of pieces and then fielded calls for weeks from impatient clients who could barely wait for their WunderWigs to be produced. Once the orders finally came in, Yonit’s satisfied customers became her best advertisement, posting pictures of themselves in their WunderWig on social media.
“I call it a glorified tichel because it is so comfortable,” said Yonit, who swims in her wig. “I have a customer who gave birth in her WunderWig and girls who have run marathons and gone scuba diving in theirs. They literally came back to their hotel, washed it out in the bathroom, hung it up to dry and wore it again the next day.”
Because of the way the wig is designed in order to create the perfect pony, WunderWigs have to be worn with a headband, scarf, beanie, cap or some other accessory to cover the outer edges. Yonit says that the 16-inch wavy is her best seller, with detachable bangs available for those who want them. But for most, the fact that their foreheads and necks are blissfully free of hair is an incredible draw, making the wig comfortably wearable even on a hot, humid summer day. Still others are drawn to the wig because of its trendy good looks. I mean, where else can you find a wig that makes the perfect high pony?
Put all those factors together and customers go beyond the typical sheitel-wearing crowd. Yonit has seen women starting to cover their hair for the first time with it and has also made sales to those with alopecia and cancer, especially teenagers. One young customer in particular is forever embedded in Yonit’s memory.
“I had gone to Israel for a week and a girl who had lost all her hair had contacted me,” she recalls. “I had her measure her head so I knew what size she was and I brought a piece to Israel for her. She met me at my hotel and she walked out crying because she hadn’t worn a pony in so long.”
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and WunderWig’s success has brought out the copycats. Having tried the imitations herself, Yonit warns women not to be fooled.
“I purposely put a lot of details in my wig that can’t be duplicated,” said Yonit. “The copies just aren’t the same. If you want the look of an original WunderWig you have to buy an original WunderWig.”
Seeing others try to ride the wave of success that she has so carefully and painstakingly built has been painful for Yonit, but she has faith that her product is superior and will stand the test of time. From the carefully-chosen hair, to the natural look and the way anyone can wash it by hand, the company is all about convenience and comfort, with hundreds of satisfied customers wearing their sheitels to places other wigs only dream of going.
My thoughts? Having worn it in the sticky, summery heat, I am more than impressed. Some days I find myself wearing it hours after I come home because it is so comfortable I just forget to take it off. Put on a WunderWig and, with one look in the mirror, you suddenly feel like an overgrown teenager, playing with your hair as you decide if you should wear it in a pony, a bun, a French braid or just plain down. The possibilities are practically limitless, making this not only the most comfortable wig you will ever wear, but the funnest one as well.