The former Game of Thrones wig and make-up expert will also train screen industry crew from her Newtownards studio
At the age of 72, Patricia Strong has set up a new business at Ards Business Hub to train new screen industry crew and provide wigs for people affected by hair loss.
The hairdresser and make-up artist, who has worked in the hair and wigs department on Game of Thrones and many more major productions, has formed Patricia Strong Creatives, which combines courses for the next generation of screen hair and make-up artists along with providing wigs for people who have lost their hair through chemotherapy or alopecia.
The new company has opened a studio in Ards Business Hub headquarters in Sketrick House in Newtownards.
She explained: “Ards Business Hub is only ten minutes away from my home in Greyabbey and provides a great location and studio space. It is very peaceful and quiet and means that my hair loss clients have a very private and serene environment to visit when coping with the distress of hair loss through chemotherapy, alopecia or age related. The studio ensures total confidentiality, there is onsite parking and the services offered by Ards Business Hub are exceptional. The feedback from my clients regarding the studio has been very encouraging.”
Nichola Lockhart, chief executive of Ards Business Hub, said: “It is incredible that Patricia is starting a new business at an age when most people have long since retired. She is a phenomenal business person and a great example of the dedication and energy needed to succeed in the film and TV industry. It is so good that she is passing on her knowledge and experience to a new generation, while her work in supplying wigs to people with hair loss is inspirational.”
Born and bred in Comber, Patricia began her career with a Saturday job in a local hairdressing salon at the age of 13 and after leaving school at 14 she started her hairdressing apprenticeship. During this apprenticeship Patricia was taught the Creative Art of Wigs, which included the making, cutting and styling of wigs
After completing her apprenticeship, she opened her first salon in Comber at just 18 and will celebrate 60 years in the business in 2023.
She continued: “As my hairdressing clientele grew and my salon became successful in Comber a client of mine asked me if I could supply her mum with a wig as she was going through chemotherapy, my reputation for working with wigs grew through word of mouth and I became known as ‘the wig lady’.”
Patricia’s career extended into the theatre and she has worked on many productions in the Grand Opera House with companies like The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Company The Really Useful Group and was resident wig & make-up artist for Castleward Opera for five years.
Due to her skills and expertise in wigs, hair and make-up Patricia’s talents led her into the film industry in the RoI, working on many productions like Laws of Attraction with Pierce Brosnan and Julieanne Moore and King Arthur with Kiera Knightly & Ray Winstone.
When the film industry in NI exploded with the introduction of Game of Thrones there were very few people within the industry with the skills and knowledge of wigs and for the next five years Patricia was kept busy working on Game of Thrones as well as Dracula Untold, The Lost City of Z, Mrs Wilson, Krypton, Silverpoint and many more.
Patricia said: “I love working in the film industry and the reason I started my own training academy was because during the third season of Game of Thrones I realised there wasn’t that many people in NI with the skills and knowledge of wigs that was needed to work on major productions, crew members were having to be brought in from England and RoI. I began to offer training courses because I thought we had an abundant amount of talent in NI that wanted to gain employment within the film industry, they just needed to be upskilled.”
Many of the people she trained are now working on film and TV productions in NI so she has helped to build up a good pool of local expertise.
Courses can last from one to three days and cover areas such as up-styling and dressing of long hair, an introduction to wigs & postiche for film and TV. Make-up courses and cutting courses.
As well as courses for the industry she will be introducing short evening courses for those coping with hair loss on how to choose the right wig, how to look after your wig, tips and tricks on skin care and make-up. The courses are intended to be enjoyable, informal and participants will be offered light refreshments.
“During their journey if they lose their hair a lot of ladies lose confidence. This course is intended to help build up that confidence and help them feel good about themselves. Look good feel good is my belief, “ she added.