BEING turned down on Dragons Den has not stopped one hairdresser from chasing her dreams – and now her salon for autistic children is a cut above.
Marion Burns opened the Raspberry Kids Teen Salon nearly a year ago after realising there was nowhere in the area which catered for children with special needs.
It comes nearly seven years after she was turned down on BBC2 show Dragons Den with her plans to open a child-only hairdressers.
But now the 55 year-old grandmother runs her own business in Augusta Place, using cutting techniques she developed to help youngsters feel at ease.
Her ‘sensory’ shop comes complete with games consoles, tablet computers, mood lighting. And children even have the option of sitting in chairs designed to look like toy cars.
And while talking and laughing is encouraged, Marion has banned the word ‘cut’ as it could cause trigger feelings of stress in clients.
The Leamington resident even uses specially made quiet scissors and uses distraction techniques to keep the child calm while their hair is done.
The mum-of-one told the Observer: “Over time I have developed cutting techniques which seemed successful and I realised I could use them to allow children with additional needs to have their hair done too.
“I have heard many nightmare stories about some people tackling their child’s hair before coming to the salon – one mum even taped her daughter’s fringe down and then make the mistake of cutting above the sellotape.
“The salon is somewhere where children can have fun in a safe and welcoming environment. All of my stylists are trained in the techniques and I also have a junior employee who has Downs Syndrome and is a great asset to the team.”
And Marion’s techniques have proved such a success, she is now training hairdressers from across the globe.
She has also teamed up with fellow Dragons Den rejects Tangle Teezer – now a multi-million pound company – to provide combs which brush through children’s hair painlessly.
She said: “The dragons’ didn’t seem to think children’s hairdressing was viable, but then again they turned down Tangle Teezer too.
“I now train hairdressers from all over the world with my techniques and help others set up similar salons, the most recent being in Saudi Arabia.”
Visit www.raspberryhair.co.uk to book or find out more.