A YOUNG wheelchair user has made her dream of opening a beauty salon reality thanks to the help of an organisation promoting independent living.
Sarah Dullea from Dunmanway, who has spina bifida, said she has worked in a number of salons that could not facilitate her wheelchair.
Despite feeling initially disheartened she set about saving for years to gather enough stock to start her own fully accessible business.
The 23-year-old had been attending Crann in Ovens-a centre providing services to young people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus-when she revealed her wish to own a salon. After months of hard-graft Sarah has now opened her new business Sarah’s Art of Beauty on the grounds of the organisation.
"When I told Colette and Padraig- who run the centre- they thought it was a brilliant idea. The best thing about the salon is that it's not just for people with disabilities. It's really nice to be able to open it to the public."
Sarah had a passion for beauty from a young age.
"At the beginning it was just a hobby. I was doing nails at kids birthday parties from the age of 11. My mum showed them how to make jewellery so we were able to work together. After a while that fizzled out but I still remained passionate about beauty."
She explained how make-up helped her growing up.
"When I had my face done nobody noticed the wheelchair. I'd like to be able to give others that same feeling.” Sarah has been working closely with the head of Crann’s services, Colette Cahill to bring her vision to life.
“The Crann centre has been great," she said. "They have been so supportive. Every detail including how exactly I wanted the layout to be was taken into account."
Sarah admits her path in the beauty industry was not without its challenges.
"Salons are tight to move around in at the best of times. I found that every salon I worked in was lacking in terms of accessibility in some way. Some didn't have the right nail tables to work on while others lacked accessible toilets. There were times when I wanted to give up because of all the setbacks. However, I brought myself back and thought "I'll stick at it." It’s great to be able to have my own salon and be able to run it the way I like.” The West Cork woman has sacrificed a lot to become a self-made entrepreneur.
"I had to invest a lot of my own money which included all my earnings."
She described seeing her salon for the first time as overwhelming.
"I'm delighted and overwhelmed. I'm almost in tears every time I look at it."
Sarah described how her disability still presents challenges during a typical working day.
"The rod in my back restricts me from doing eyelashes extensions which is a pity. However, I’m able to do make-up, manicures and pedicures-all the usual treatments.” Sarah’s boyfriend Jeff provided valuable support during preparations for the salon’s opening.
“No matter what I ask him to do it’s never a bother. He has been fantastic.” Head of Crann's Services Colette Cahill said they were delighted to help Sarah achieve her goal.
"We at Crann are innovative about creating opportunities for our service users. Everyone is delighted to see what Sarah has achieved."
Sarah said she is now taking bookings and can be contacted through the Sarah's Art of Beauty facebook page and Sarah's Art of Beauty Instagram page.
The salon can also be contacted by phone at 085-2881003