How to make sure your salon is inclusive and diverse

Creating an inclusive experience for everyone is becoming increasingly important for business owners, as a changing climate is demanding that more is done in order to promote diversity.

For salon owners, this is perhaps even more important to consider, as salons are typically catered towards a specific type of person. The harsh lighting and loud music can be triggering for people with anxiety, epilepsy, or other sensory conditions, while those with kinky or curly hair may find that the average stylist doesn’t know how to work with their hair type. Here are some things that you should consider for your own salon to ensure that it’s inclusive for a huge range of people, and which could potentially increase your customer base.

Specialise in different hair types

It’s a known fact that anyone with curly hair isn’t able to book an appointment at any salon. Instead, it’s highly recommended that they visit a stylist that knows exactly how their hair type behaves, as well as the best way to cut and style it. In fact, up until a few years ago, it was difficult to even find hair care products specifically catered towards curly or kinky hair on supermarket or chemist shelves — or, if they did exist, the available stock would be incredibly limited. Instead, shoppers would need to visit a specialist store in order to buy the products best suited for their hair type.

This simply makes life more difficult for anyone who has textured hair, while limiting their options and potentially making it more expensive to get their hair styled and cut. This is because those who specialise in curly hair require additional training beyond the standard hairdressing courses offered at colleges or salons, so the cost of training is significantly more for you and your stylists. There’s also a huge variety in the types of textured hair, which all behave differently. For example, coily 4C hair behaves much differently to 2A waves, and your stylists will be expected to know how to deal with the different hair types, including the right products to use, as well as the best way to wash, cut, and style it.

Invest in training your hair stylists — even if it’s only a select few — in order to make your services appeal to a wider client base. Being able to offer your services to all customers, regardless of their hair type, can only serve to benefit your customer base, and your reputation as a salon owner. However, you want to protect this investment into your stylists, and this will require the right salon insurance policy. As explained by Salon Gold, you need to include the right legal phrasing in employee contracts so they, legally, can’t leave and take your clientele with them.

Offer more relaxed services

Most salons come with bright lights and loud music as part of the experience, but this can actually be daunting for customers with anxiety or sensory intolerances, such as epilepsy or autism. Toning down these aspects of your salon can all serve to aid the relaxation of your clients, allowing them to enjoy the pamper experience rather than feel stressed from the moment they walk in the door. This is exactly what colourist Lisa Shepherd offers her clients, after suffering a head injury that left her unable to handle bright lights and strong smells. Thus, the low-sensory salon was born, which features lower-level lighting, meditative music, and zero caffeinated refreshments, ensuring things are kept calm and collected.

Now, we’re not suggesting that you completely overhaul your salon to offer a lower sensory experience, but it may be food for thought. You could simply have a day or two dedicated to this quieter pace, open for any clients who may benefit from this service. If you do find yourself with a clientele who are looking for a more relaxed service, it may be worth taking extra time to get to know each person individually, setting up consultations between stylists and clients in order to further reduce any anxieties and stresses. Ensuring each person sees the same stylist each time they return can help this further, as this will help them feel increasingly comfortable, and encourage them to keep returning.

Be transparent with services

Fashion styles are changing faster than ever, as society becomes more comfortable challenging gender stereotypes. Now, people are more comfortable expressing themselves through how they look, which naturally extends to their hair. There is no difference between male and female hair itself, but rather the length and type of hair they have. Rather than differentiating costs based on gender, charge your customers based on the treatment they’re looking for, and roughly how long the process will take.

For example, it’s much quicker to complete a wash, cut, and style on short hair than the same treatment on hip-length hair. Thicker, longer hair will also require more products, which eats into your expenditure. But these styles aren’t limited to specific genders. Highlight the differences in price based on hair length and type, and be transparent with your clients about your pricing method. If your client requests a bright dye job — but fails to explain that they’re naturally dark brunette — you’ll need to bleach and prepare their hair first, making it a longer, and more expensive, process. It may also not be healthy, or possible, to get the desired results after just one session. Ensure your client understands the cost and any risks associated with the treatment before starting, so they’re not left unhappy at the end.

Offering an inclusive and diverse experience in your salon doesn’t necessarily mean completely changing your setup or services. Instead, you can easily stand out against your competitors simply by looking for adjustments in what you already offer.

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay