The First Low Sensory Salon – Kidderminster
Lisa Shepherd’s own battle with an invisible illness caused her to drastically change her life – and launch the first low sensory salon.
Lisa Shepherd is one of the country’s best-loved hairdressers, acclaimed for her colour know-how, savvy business skills and an ability to make women feel fantastic about themselves. However, Lisa’s career was almost cut short, when a terrifying incident left her physically unable to work in the one place she’d always felt most at home: the salon.
Lisa’s passion and love for colour endures today and it is this that ensures that her love affair with colour is at the heart of this destination salon. If you too find the environment of an everyday hair salon an overwhelming and daunting experience then this specialised salon could be the hair haven you’ve been searching for.
In December 2016, Lisa suffered a Tonic-Clonic seizure (once known as a grand mal). This frightening event is what most people think of when they think of a seizure; causing convulsions and a loss of consciousness. Lisa suffered impact to her head which led to concussion, but beyond that also caused lasting damage to her vestibular system – the sensory system which helps with balance and spatial orientation. In fact, it was impaired by almost 50%, causing a major disconnection between the brain, eyes and limbs. On top of this, she now also suffers from light-sensitive epilepsy.
This tragic incident meant that salon life no longer felt like an option for Lisa, despite it being the place she most wanted to be. Visual stimulants like colours, light and motion caused intense physical pain, while anxiety and panic attacks also flared up in the now-hostile surroundings.
With a lifelong love of hairdressing and a problem-solving business brain which had already seen her launch smart initiatives like the Color Bar, Lisa decided to take matters into her own hands and radically alter her salon to make it a place where she – and others living with similar illnesses – would feel safe and welcome.
What is different about a Low Sensory Salon?
1. The Lighting
Lighting is one of the biggest triggers for those with chronic illness, but is also one of the most important factors for a salon. In Lisa’s Kidderminster space, more than 100 spotlights were removed and the remaining ones were fitted with low-voltage bulbs and filters to create a lower level of brightness.
Stylists have softened, but carefully positioned, lighting around their mirrors and use head lamps for close-up colour work. Instead of stark white walls, the salon is now painted a muted grey to further soften the space.
2. The Music
Music can also be an issue, which is why the salon now only plays quiet, meditative options. Clients are encouraged to focus on breathing methods and meditation, particularly while their colour is developing.
3. Back Wash Experience
At the backwash, there’s no lighting at all at eyeline. Clients are provided with eye masks and earplugs, so that they can focus fully on enjoying a massage and relaxing.
Lisa’s physio therapist has also visited the salon to train staff in Ayuvedic vestibular and cranial massage, for a truly blissful and therapeutic backwash experience.
Even refreshments are considered, with no caffeinated drinks on offer – only decaf options, herbal teas and water.
Peppermint – which is great for mind stability – also features in the salon, with candles burning to create a more relaxed and stable environment.
My first experience was amazing I never been to such a fab salon for a long time. Tranquil music in the background, candles dotted around, no loud thumping music highly recommend you try. Luke was very good and he listened to what I said.Sylvia Orme
Luke was very professional and was able to help me feel at ease about having my hair cut. I had spent years avoiding the hairdressers due to a phobia but Luke’s approach to cutting my hair made me feel at ease. He helped me choose a style for my complete restyle which I love. It has been the first time I have left a hairdressers feeling great and confident about my cut. I have been recommending Lisa Shepherd’s salon to my friends too as we are preparing for school prom.Kieron Pound
Visit Us & Enjoy The Experience
The salon operates every day as Low Sensory due to Lisa’s diagnosis. However, depending on how severe your illness is, Lisa does offer 121 appointments on a Monday. The Salon is effectively closed to all but Lisa and her clients.
If you don’t think you would need such a bespoke service then Tuesdays are extremely good to see other members of our team.
This previously unknown and unprovided gap in the market means that anyone living with chronic illness can feel safe and enjoy great hair without triggering fits and causing undue stress. While vestibular disorders are rare, there are plenty of people living with anxiety and illnesses which make the salon a hostile place to be.
“As an industry, we could be more aware of mental health and chronic illness, we could be a lot more helpful. My aim to raise awareness of just how many people are alienated from a salon experience and we have it in our hands to change this and make the salon a positive experience and a safe place for them.
The salon still runs at the same pace and our ethos hasn’t changed; we still deliver the best colour around but now it’s in a zero-stress environment which feels more like a spa. Not only is it better for our clients, but it’s better for my team too.
I feel that by making these changes, it will hopefully lead them to a better future and make the workplace a much nicer place to be day-to-day.”
Do you feel anxious in a Hair Salon?
Call the #LSS today and arrange a a time slot for you to come in and experience this specialist low sensory salon!
Salon Reception: 01562 748833