With thirteen years experience, and knowledge gained from working at a special school in Cardiff, mother of six Elizabeth Stewart has recently launched Sp1 (the name means special one), Wales’ first special needs specific hair salon.
Elizabeth, it’s lovely to meet you. Can you tell us how your salon came into being?
I’m a mum, and homemaker, with six children; ve sons and a daughter. My fth child (fourth son) Delroy is 22 years old and has Downs Syndrome. When Del was a little boy he had quite a phobia about having his hair cut and the only time I could achieve a trim was when he was asleep. Thank goodness his hair was curly – you couldn’t notice the mistakes!
Jumping ahead a few years, Delroy has now left college. As with most people of this generation, employment is very hard to get hold of. And, believe me, even more so if you have additional needs. Marrying the two situations together, and having undertaken a lot of research, I discovered the great need for this service and decided this would be a perfect opportunity for Del to have a secure job.
Tell us a bit about your innovative salon.
Sp1 Haircare is a salon speci cally for people who have additional needs, regardless of age or sex. The general feel of the salon is that of a mainstream hairdresser; with us offering, and catering for, whatever is requested.
As this is such a new venture (basically uncharted territory), we’re prepared to grow our business in relation to our clients’ requirements. If there’s a demand for a nail and beauty section, we’ll oblige.
Apart from the main salon, we also have a sensory area which is completely separate from the salon. We have provided this as a calming area to overcome any possible anxieties our clients may have. It can be used before, during, or after an appointment. The sensory room will also be a place of rest and relaxation if required.
We employ two full time stylists, and two part-time staff members who have additional needs themselves. All our staff members will have Makaton sign language training; which can help people who have limited speech and who cannot, or prefer not, to sign. And, whenever possible, we use any distraction techniques that parents and carers nd effective.
We’ve liaised with Cardiff and the Vale College to offer work placements to their hair and beauty students as well as work experience to their enterprise skills students.
Delroy is very excited at his new found role as manager, and we’re all hoping this will be our agship salon and the rst of many. There are many ‘Delroys’ up and down the country; we relish the thought of being in the privileged position of giving meaningful employment to them.
With a fear of getting their hair cut being commonplace in people with special needs, this ground-breaking salon is a safe haven for people with learning dif culties such as Downs Syndrome and autism. So come on Cardiff, spread the word.
105 Heol Llanishen Fach, Rhiwbina, Cardiff CF14 6RE
029 2062 4038
07926 576 286