For many parents, getting their kids to sit through a haircut is a grueling experience. (At one point, I gave up on it myself, and tried cutting our 1-year-old’s hair at home after a particularly traumatizing salon experience — which ended with a swift kick from my son to my pregnant belly.) But for those whose children have special needs, the experience can be 100 times worse. And now, a mom in St. Paul, Minnesota is trying to change that, by creating a hair salon that specifically caters to children and adults with disabilities.
Cat Rongitsch is a mother of two girls with special needs, so she knows first-hand what difficulties can arise during haircuts. She also happens to have 10 years of hair-styling experience under her belt, which is why she’s decided to combine her two passions and create a safe place where “all people with physical or intellectual differences to get services with dignity.”
When asked what her inspiration for the salon was, Cat tells Babble:
“I was hearing stories of families in tears because they were so over joyed when a stylist took extra care to give their child with autism a haircut. I don’t want people to feel like there’s no place for them. I believe that level of care should be standard and that’s what I’m trying to create. As a mom of two little girls with disabilities, it’s important to me that they grow up in a world where that care exists.”
Cat tells Babble that her 9-year-old daughter Maddy is wheelchair-bound due to spina bifida, and that her 3-year-old daughter Betty was born premature, which has led to developmental delays. She has spent her years as a mother navigating a world that is not always accepting or accommodating to those with special needs. But soon, Cat hopes patrons like her own two girls will have a different, and better experience getting haircuts in St. Paul.
The mom of two also knows the many fears that run through the minds of those with special needs before they enter a hair salon. Will the building be accessible? Will there be loud music? Chemical smells? What if I need a break? How will the staff react to my differences?
But according to her GoFundMe page, she’s going the extra mile to ensure she’s “getting it right,” by partnering with top medical professionals who she says can “give us the tools to best accommodate differences and create accessibility.”
Her Facebook page, Dignified Beauty for All, tells of the success she’s had so far in raising funds and support for her salon. The local news station KARE 11 even recently interviewed her, and her GoFundMe page received 30,000 visits in the first 48 hours after it was launched, and has raised over $3,500 to date. Cat has even found a perfect spot for her salon, and partnered with businesses who want to help.
But she still needs to raise more money to get it off the ground — and that’s where you come in. If you’d like to contribute to Cat Rongitsch’s GoFundMe page and help her open the doors of “Beauty with Dignity” for residents of St. Paul, you can do so here.
Good luck, Cat! Thank you for your vision of providing services for all, regardless of needs or abilities.