WHEN Emma Hirst first started senior school, she was a bright and cheery straight-A student.
But at the age of 12 she began to lose her hair and, within a few years, her confidence was destroyed - so much so that she left without any GCSEs.
An ill-fitting prescription wig failed to hide the evidence of the alopecia which claimed all the hair on Emma’s head.
But the young woman’s life was transformed when her parents forked out thousands of pounds for a specially-made, personalised hair replacement.
The change inspired Emma, now 29, to set up a business helping girls just like herself who have suffered hair loss through alopecia or cancer treatment.
Sheffield-based Aspire Hair has so far helped hundreds of women - and several men - across the UK to get their confidence back.
Emma carries out personal consultations with all of her clients and works hard to keep the price to a minimum.
The business has been so successful that a delighted Emma has eyelashes for the first time in more than a decade.
The mum-of-three, from Beighton, said: “The kids at school were quite cruel when I lost my hair. I did not have really terrible experiences but it was my confidence which was hit.
“I had the NHS wig on prescription when I was 13 and it was just awful.
“I was 14 when I got my custom-made wig of human hair. It really helped give me my confidence back.
“Now I have a few wigs and I change them around. I’ve got a blonde one, a red one and an auburn one. At the moment I’m enjoying being blonde while the sun is out!
“The feedback I’ve had has been lovely. I think it’s easier for people to speak to someone who has been through it themselves.”