Dublin mum aims to set up sensory barber shop!

by Rose Barrett
0 comment

Rose Barrett

Emma Doyle is a busy mother of five but a woman who believes, if you can’t find a service to support a child with special needs, go out and do it yourself!

Born in Ballymun, Emma lives in Balbriggan with her five children Aimee (almost 17), Lara (12), Lee (11), Avalena (2) and Adam (1).  Her eldest son Lee has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD.

Going to the hairdressers/barbers is a nightmare for Lee. Like many children with autism, Lee hates the bright neon lighting and noisy environment of busy hair salons.

A qualified accounting technician, Emma decided to train as a hairdresser, to make a business plan, and set up her own sensory and disability-friendly hair salon!

“Personal grooming is an important part of everyday life,” says Emma. “It makes us feel good, boosts our self-confidence and mental health, and it can be a nice treat too.

“For a person with autism or special needs, the noise, confined spaces, bright lighting, and fast pace of a regular hair salon can be overwhelming and just too much to take.”

Emma also noted that wheelchair friendly salons/barbers were also hard to find in Dublin.

“I’ve been told of people getting their hair cut outside the shop door, or at home because salons do not have independent access for a wheelchair user,” added Emma.

So, a determined Emma got her qualification with South Gate Barbers in Drogheda. “Agnes and staff were so good to me, and I was thrilled to finally qualify as a hair dresser! I’ve just finished my business plan, and now I am looking to source a business premises, preferably in Balbriggan or Swords or somewhere along the Fingal belt.

“I will need a premises at somewhere slighter calmer than say a main street, and where it’s easier for a parent to park. The premises clearly will have to be adapted and fitted out to suit persons with additional needs.”

“There, I will be offering a fully equipped sensory sensitive and wheelchair accessible barbers, possibly the first in Dublin. ‘Erena’* Barbers will be a calming space with wheelchair access, portable shampoo bowls, silent clippers and disability friendly signage; dimmed lighting, a sensory corner, with sensory objects to play with; PEC boards for clients who are non-verbal, plus I will have ear defenders and reduced sound/music.”

“I really want to make this happen, for all the children and adults out there who find a visit to the barber shop stressful.”

But kitting out the salon with specially designed equipment is going to be a challenge for the single mother of five.

“I will need about €10,000 for the equipment and to fit out the salon so I’ve set up a GoFundMe page. Anything, no matter how small, will be appreciated and hopefully, other Dublin children and Lee will benefit when ‘Erena’ opens. Many thanks to those who’ve already donated, your generosity is most appreciated.”

Donations please to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-emma-open-a-disability-friendly-barbers

*Erena means peace in Greek, and is derived from the second last letter of each of Emma’s children’s names.  

Related Articles