PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A South Jersey hairstylist is helping some local kids have an unforgettable experience when they’re at the salon.
Salon Kink at Central Square in Linwood, New Jersey is typically a bustling place where people go to get themselves groomed but for Brian Lopez’s clients, who are people dealing with sensory disorders or disabilities, an appointment with a hairstylist is done in a private setting with their loved ones in attendance and comfort items, as well as snacks nearby.
“I did not realize the need for something so simple,” Lopez said about his grooming service for special needs children.
A few times a month, the 34-year-old hair stylist meets with four to five children in a given day who are all given their own personalized salon setting and hour of grooming.
Each appointment is set up to provide the children a serene atmosphere to keep them calm during their haircut. And only one client and their loved ones are allowed in the salon during the grooming process.
Lopez says that this is “the most gratifying experience.”
The owner of Salon Kink, Belinda Novelli and junior stylist Sabrina Solorzano, along with Lopez, helped to bring the service to fruition.
“It takes a team to do what we’re doing,” he said.
Lopez said they saw the need to meet the demand to help children with special needs a few months ago and they decided to do something about it.
They contacted local community organizations and have now changed the experience of a haircut for so many children.
Lopez first started this endeavor several years ago when his mother Kim Saparito-Austin, a New Jersey educator, had a student who feared having his haircut. That is when he decided to get more involved.
“Knowing that the journey from start to finish, he’s really taken me to the next level,” said Lopez about the timid student who has blossomed since their first experience together as hairstylist and client.
“In a world fulled of so much negativity, I feel the best compliment is to wake up to see people are sharing this and supporting us,” he said. “The comfort level of a parent from when they walk in the door to when they leave makes me feel I’ve done my job. I am not used to taking the light for something like this, I feel I am paying it forward.”