‘A lot of thought, effort and resources have been poured into this’: Sensory-inclusive hair salon opens in Cork 

“One child wriggling in the seat, another trying to get out the door, or climbing up on things - all while the stylist is trying to do their job. It can be very stressful for everybody." 
‘A lot of thought, effort and resources have been poured into this’: Sensory-inclusive hair salon opens in Cork 

The salon is a welcoming environment, open to all, but with a particular focus on children and people who may benefit from a different sensory or more tailored service. Stock image. 

A NEW sensory-inclusive hair salon aiming to create an “easy, fun and supportive” environment for its customers has opened in Clonakilty today. 

The new salon, Flourish & Be, is the brainchild of Emma Connolly, who is a practising occupational therapist based in West Cork.

Located at 12 Pearse Street, Flourish & Be is described as an “inclusive salon for children and young adults” which has “children’s preferences at the forefront”.

The salon is a welcoming environment, open to all, but with a particular focus on children and people who may benefit from a different sensory or more tailored service.

The new salon, Flourish & Be, is the brainchild of Emma Connolly (pictured) who is a practising occupational therapist based in West Cork.
The new salon, Flourish & Be, is the brainchild of Emma Connolly (pictured) who is a practising occupational therapist based in West Cork.

When children arrive to have a haircut, they are encouraged to explore and engage with the salon environment, which has various sensory stations and digital devices, including interactive bubble tubes and fibre optics, a gaming station, a play house, TV, as well as fun games and toys to encourage the child to lean into their imagination.

All fluorescent lighting has been replaced with softer, dimmable LED fixtures allowing to reduce any light sensitivities as required.

Equipment has also been carefully sourced keeping in mind the decibel level, allowing for a calmer, quieter space.

“A lot of thought, effort and resources have been poured into this project,” Emma told The Echo. “Through my work as an occupational therapist, I grew tired of seeing families stressed and overwhelmed when it comes to their shopping experiences, either in salons, supermarkets, play zones or shopping centres.

“For the most part, the environments are not suitable, and it results in distress and ultimately them opting out.” 

The new venture, she said, is guided by her desire to create a more accessible society.

“Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do," she said. “We encourage parents to reach out for support, to help explore their child’s own unique differences in order to tailor the services to meet their requirements. We know that no two people are the same so we can adapt the environment as required, and fully support families throughout the whole process, from the lead-up to the appointment, the duration and follow-up.

“We are here to empower and embrace change." 

A mother to “four lively young children”, Emma said she understands first-hand how difficult it can be trying to arrange a haircut.

“One child wriggling in the seat, another trying to get out the door, or climbing up on things-all while the stylist is trying to do their job. It can be very stressful for everybody.

“Throw in any differences to the mix and that’s another story again!

“So, I took my experience as an OT and as a parent and went about creating an environment that was as easy, fun and supportive for the child as well as the parent." 

To book an appointment or discuss any particular needs email flourishandbe12@gmail.com.

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