“Au-some Cuts is a sensory friendly hair salon created for children & adults with disabilities. Our hair salon was designed with the purpose and dedication of providing accommodations for clients with special needs.” – Au-Some Cuts LLC, Facebook
It’s a beautiful thing when you find the middle ground between your passion and your calling. This young female entrepreneur that was able to do just that. Meet Alexia Saenz, the 24-year-old mastermind behind the Rio Grande Valley’s first and only hair salon that is designed with the disability community in mind.
“My main goal is to provide accessibility for all regardless of needs or ability,” says Saenz.
Au-Some Cuts opened its doors the last week of August of 2019 in McAllen. To say that Saenz has been overwhelmed by support from the community is an understatement. “Everyone has been incredibly supportive; a lot of local businesses have donated their specialty services to us and it truly means the world,” she says. Au-Some Cuts is located in the Zinnia Plaza on 10th Street and Zinnia.
The Inspiration Behind the Salon
Receiving her Texas Cosmetology license in high school is only one of the many accomplishments Saenz has made along her journey to opening up Au-Some Cuts. Upon graduating from Texas A&M University with a BA in Communication Science & Disorders, she returned to the RGV where she worked at a rehab clinic as a Speech Language Pathologist Assistant.
In doing so, she was exposed to treating patients on the spectrum. This further expanded her knowledge in the field and nurtured a goal she would soon find herself working to meet.
One of the questions she constantly received was if she knew of any hair salons catering to the disability community. Being that there weren’t any, she took it upon herself to cater to her clients after hours at her mom’s hair salon. Thus, her dream of opening up a sensory friendly hair salon was born. It was her brother and co-owner encouraging her to open it up sooner than anticipated.
Au-Some Cuts uses special tools that cater to those sensitive to their surroundings. To ease overwhelming, the salon also uses sensory toys. They also provide a wheelchair accessible room known as The Quiet Room. This also houses bean bag chairs for those who do better in a comfortable setting.
Inside the salon is a play area for clients to familiarize themselves with this new setting until they feel comfortable. In doing so, they are able to make that connection between something fun (the play area) and something they deem unpleasant (the haircut). This helps to bridge the gap between the two and turn their haircut experience into a positive one.
One of the biggest takeaways of Au-Some Cuts is that a trip for a haircut also doubles as an educational experience. Given her background and experience in working with patients of all backgrounds, Alexia Saenz goes the extra mile and educates parents on calming techniques they can use in other settings.
“A lot of the times, parents aren’t familiar with [different kinds of] methods they can implement at home,” she says. “If they are at a birthday party, at the store, they can use the same techniques to calm them down.”
Combining her knowledge and skills with her background in cosmetology has allowed Saenz to pave the way for other businesses to follow suit. She hopes to see more people in the RGV embrace the disability community and find ways to be more inclusive.