Much more than ‘just Sheree’

By on July 10, 2019

SJ Kober’s Boutique owner Sheree Kober creates custom wigs to remind anyone they are beautiful

When Sheree Kober opened her wig and fashion boutique at 114 W. Main St. in Ephrata, she intended to provide quality wigs to the community.

As a professionally trained wigmaker, Kober creates custom, ventilated wigs, made from human hair, silk and plastic fiber. Her expertise, combined with a love of fashion, seemed to be the perfect fit for SJ Kober’s Boutique. But Kober’s past experiences, combined with the present issues many of her clients face, have led her in a different direction that seems predestined by the kind of person she is.

Jamie Hubiak, who started as a customer at SJ Kober’s and is now an employee and close friend, describes Kober as “One of those people you meet and fall in love with.” Though Kober remains humble, and describes herself as “just Sheree,” Hubiak is adamant that she’s so much more.

“When I first walked into SJ Kober’s Boutique, I had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer an hour earlier,” Hubiak explained. “I was feeling horrible and had been crying, but the first thing she said to me was, ‘You are so beautiful.’’’

“She had no idea I had been diagnosed with cancer, but she made me feel better at one of my most vulnerable moments,” Hubiak shared.Not only did Kober provide instant reassurance, but when Hubiak explained her diagnosis, she closed the store down, locked the door, and sat with her for five hours, telling her, “You have me for as long as you need me.”

Kober’s empathy and support for her customers extend far beyond a typical shop owner, and as she began forming relationships, she felt called to help those who were struggling.

Having navigated lifelong medical issues herself, Kober found she could relate to many customers who felt self-conscious after losing hair due to cancer, alopecia, or burns. In fact, Kober began her career making her own pieces to cover a scar she felt self-conscious about. From there, she was professionally trained by a friend’s dad, a Jewish Rabbi who made Kosher wigs for Jewish clientele.
Describing her boutique as a “judgment free zone,” Kober’s customers consist of a melting pot of diverse people, all of whom feel at home at SJ Kober’s.

The safe atmosphere is especially important to many who are facing monumental life changes, including young children.

Sheree Kober, owner of SJ Kober’s Boutique in Ephrata. Photos submitted.

Pictured are just a few of the many styles of wigs available at SJ Kober’s Boutique. Kober creates custom, ventilated wigs, made from human hair, silk and plastic fiber.

Pictured are just a few of the many styles of wigs available at SJ Kober’s Boutique. Kober creates custom, ventilated wigs, made from human hair, silk and plastic fiber.

 

While Kober admits that she “wasn’t mentally prepared,” for the toll it would take on her, meeting young burn victims and cancer patients compelled her to help them. Taking the time to listen to her customers, Kober heard stories of bullying, low self-esteem, even suicide attempts, and knew she had to do more.

“Insurance doesn’t cover wigs for children who have alopecia, burns, or cancer,” Kober explained. “And children are constantly growing.”

Knowing that many were unable to afford buying and replacing custom medical wigs, Kober began helping customers finance them with the sales of her boutique’s handbags. She admits that she’s overwhelmed at times, as she’s currently making more than 65 medical wigs for customers, but she can’t turn away those who need her.

In addition to using money from her sales at SJ Kober’s to help finance the medical wigs; she works with those who need help filing insurance claims for medical prostheses to help them lower costs.

Kober and her employees provide support to customers every step of the way, hosting Wig Parties where her stylists shave heads for cancer patients, and sponsoring fundraisers to help raise money for medical wigs.

In the future, Kober hopes to host group events with other local business owners, as a sense of community is important to her long-term goals.

The support for her local community is evident in the offerings at SJ Kober’s Boutique. In addition to wigs, wig maintenance, and unique handbags, Kober sells locally-made rosary beads and jewelry made by a 92-year-old customer to help her afford medicine. She even purchases hair for wigs from local women.

As much as Kober does for those with medical issues, who come from as far away as New Hampshire, Hubiak stresses that SJ Kober’s wigs are for anyone.

“There’s a stigma attached to wigs where people think they’re just for older people or cancer patients,” shared Hubiak, who stresses that is simply not true.

Thankfully, Hubiak’s most recent scans and bloodwork came back clear, but she says she’ll never give up the 45 wigs that Kober has made for her. From her very first bubble gum pink wig on the fateful day of her diagnosis, to the wigs she and her husband jokingly refer to as her ‘PTA Wig’ and her ‘I Want to Speak to the Manager’ wig, she believes there’s a wig for every moment, and you can do anything in Kober’s wigs and expect them to stay put.

While her wigs help provide confidence for every occasion, Kober makes sure to add one lesson to every wig she sells.

“I explain the purpose of the wigs for protection and health,” Kober said. “But the most important lesson for them to learn is that they are beautiful, with or without the wig!”

To learn more about SJ Kober’s Boutique, call 717-466-5858, visit sjkobers.com, or find them on Facebook at SJ Kober’s Luxury Wig Boutique and Instagram at sjkobers.

Beth Myers is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. 

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