After visiting a hair salon with her aunt – who has both physical and learning disabilities – Leach began to realise how stressful the experience was for both her aunt and the hairdresser; who didn’t know how to act around her.
Yet her aunt wasn’t the only vulnerable person to face the same problem and, albeit a niche market, Leach realised that something needed to be done. With £6,000 in savings she went about launching Hair Bears with her mother; a hairdresser and experienced care professional.
Alongside this business, Jessica aged 23 runs another that offers a similar service to adults in their care homes – Hair Carers. She also provides training sessions for hair salons, so that businesses understand how to best meet the needs of customers with learning or physical disabilities
Jessica said: “While I had no business experience, I always knew that I wanted to start my own business and give back to the community.
The PJEA gave me the confidence to set my own goals and taught me the skills required to achieve them. It brought the expertise and the mentoring that I needed to get my business up and running. It has created a network of like-minded individuals that I can turn to for support and advice.”
Jessica’s businesses are extremely popular, and her list of customers is ever-growing. Her ambition is to continue to grow the business, and we wish her every success as she continues to change her customers’ lives.
Ms. Leach plans to expand her brand by training other hairdressers in the area to use similar techniques, and certify them to have followed her strategy and standards. She hopes to eventually have certified salons all over the country!
Along with her mother, Leach now travels to homes, care homes and hospitals to cut and style hair, using a mixture of distraction techniques and sensory therapy to keep customers calm and enable them to enjoy the process a lot more.
In the future, Leach plans to introduce training and accreditation for highstreet salons so that they can gain the relevant skills and customers can see that they are autism and additional needs friendly.