NORFOLK — Sam Parks has always been a hair braider, but didn’t realize the need for a salon dedicated to people with special needs and disabilities until she became her brother’s primary caregiver three years ago.
Parks recently launched “All Inclusive,” a full-service barbershop and salon catered to people with special needs after she was inspired by the patience her brother-in-law maintains when he cuts Robert’s hair — Robert is Parks’ brother.
And, there’s that one time when Robert’s wheelchair flipped backwards at a salon after a hired caregiver didn’t think to lock the wheels.
“Back in January, I posted to social media I was thinking about opening a salon and got so many shares, likes, and messages from people telling their stories,” she said. “I saw there was a need.”
At All Inclusive, parents and caregivers can be assured their loved ones won’t be required to endure loud noises from hair clippers or even crowds if they don’t want to — she’ll make house calls if it means her client has a more comfortable experience.
With a “silent room” and by using silent clippers at the salon, Park said the goal is to provide an environment where after their easy-going visit, her customers can take pride in their appearance.
“One woman told me she cried after her son who is autistic left a salon with a messed up haircut because the barber got frustrated and refused to finish,” Parks said. “That’s not what we do here and I have a zero-tolerance for that kind of attitude.”
The way Parks said she ensures her stylists and barbers treat clients with special needs like a member of the community — she requires them to accomplish specialized training, including CPR certification and a Therapeutic Options of Virginia course.
“Therapeutic options training shows you different ways to calm someone,” she said.
Even as a busy mother of five and primary caregiver for Robert, Parks dreams for All Inclusive is bigger than the salon — she’s filed paperwork to also start a nonprofit organization.
The first initiative as a nonprofit is to garner enough donations to buy and support a big enough vehicle to transport multiple people and their wheelchairs, Parks said.
“One of the facilities I visited really want our services but because of privacy don’t necessarily want us coming to them but also have little access to transportation services,” she said. “So we have to figure out a way we can bring those people to us.”
The second initiative is to provide haircuts and styling services to people with disabilities whose families may not have the means to pay for it.
Parks said what’s driving her to continue expanding the reach for inclusiveness is simply the fulfillment of helping others while also doing something she has a personal connection to and has always been passionate about.
“I love it, I really love it,” she said.
Find more information or book an appointment at All Inclusive by clicking here.