Sy Sperling, the founder of HairClub and pioneer in hair restoration, was famous for his iconic television ads that aired in the early 80s. With just one sentence, he single-handedly brought hair replacement options into the mainstream and helped destigmatize hair loss for men worldwide.
Mr. Sperling’s introduction to hair restoration started relatively early in life–by the time he was 25, he had already lost most of his hair. Frustrated with the selection of toupees available at the time, he bought a salon in Manhattan and began developing custom hair systems that would not only suit his own needs but the needs of future clients as well. In its early years, business took off, but people weren’t eager to tell their friends and family about their hair replacement journey because of the sensitive nature of the services provided. In the late 1970s, business stagnated, which forced Mr. Sperling to rely on more traditional advertising methods to spread awareness. In 1982, his self-endorsed television commercial aired, creating one of the most influential moments in hair replacement history.
While holding up a photo of himself before using a hair system, Sy Sperling looked into the camera and said, "Remember, I’m not only the HairClub President, but I’m also a client.” The commercial became a cultural phenomenon; it ran nearly 400 times a day and brought in 10,000 or more calls per month from men interested in HairClub’s clinics and services. Mr. Sperling brought a taboo subject into the limelight and erased some of the stigma and shame surrounding hair loss and baldness.
“For years, men have felt funny even discussing it, much less trying to do something about it,” he said, “I think what I’ve done is remove some of the embarrassment associated with men wanting to improve their looks.”
Mr. Sperling remained with HairClub until he sold the company in 2000. He helped hundreds of thousands of people find their confidence in his time, and that legacy lives on today. Today, HairClub has expanded and evolved with 120 centers in three countries (US, CA, UK) and more than 1,200 hair health professionals that create personalized solutions and specialize in hair regrowth, replacement, and restoration for both men and women.
Colleagues, friends, and family recall Mr. Sperling as a visionary with an immense passion for business, innovation, and helping others. We continue to live by his words, “Live life to the fullest, take chances and risks, and believe in yourself.”
As a thank you to all that he has done in his lifetime, for his outstanding achievements, contributions, and influence on the hair replacement industry, it is with great honor that we posthumously present Mr. Sperling with the Icon of Icons Award.
“If it weren’t for Sy Sperling, I would not be in the position that I am today. He played a crucial part in my becoming the President of New Image Labs. One way or another, all of us in the hair replacement industry owe Mr. Sperling a huge thank you.” - Oscar R Urzola.