When opening a new business, many entrepreneurs expect a slow period — a time when they’re pounding the pavement, just trying to drum up customers for their newly launched venture.
That wasn’t the case for Heather Heide and Jess MacDonald, co-owners of Clipper Chaos, a Greenville hair studio. They opened their doors with a large customer base, mostly because they found a niche in the area: offering haircuts to kids on the autism spectrum through an initiative they launched call Haircuts with Hearts.
The two got the idea when they worked together at a different barbershop in the area. Both Heide and MacDonald have children on the autism spectrum, so they would put blue lightbulbs and chalkboards with autism facts at their hair stations to recognize Autism Awareness Month each April.
“It really opened this dialogue with our customers,” Heide says. “They’d say my nephew, my neighbor or my co-worker’s kid is on the spectrum.”
It wasn’t long before they started getting phone calls about giving haircuts to kids who might struggle in a salon environment.
“We realized there’s nobody in our area who does this,” Heide says.
The two decided to venture out and open their own salon. About a month ahead of launching their business, they brought some promotional flyers to the Fox Cities Autism Walk. They didn’t expect they would go viral.
After the Autism Society of the Fox Valley posted about it on social media, people shared the salon’s flyer more than 100 times. Before opening its doors last May, the salon had a large customer base waiting to get in.
While they’re passionate about the Haircuts with Hearts initiative, Clipper Chaos does provide services for the entire family. “We do haircuts, colors, waxing, shaves, all of the above,” Heide says.