2017-03-17 / Health & Wellness
Disabled clients get the full salon experience
One-of-a-kind basin accommodates those in wheelchairs
But for 65-year-old Lisa Montoya of Van Nuys, who’s been using a wheelchair for more than 20 years, going to a salon has not been a pleasant experience.
Lisa’s husband, Richard, 66, said a series of wrong medications in the 1990s caused his wife to have two strokes, and she ended up in the wheelchair two decades ago.
When she went to a salon, stylists would skip the wash and color she used to have—the wheelchair prevented her from using the traditional shampoo station—and she’d just get a haircut.
“She used to hate getting her hair done because she didn’t like how it was done, and that had a lot to do with not being able to get it washed and colored,” her husband said.
But with a prototype mobile wash basin designed specifically for people in wheelchairs, Don Knypstra hopes to change the salon experience for Lisa Montoya and others like her.
Knypstra, founder of the Chatsworth-based cosmetology services nonprofit Ridone Inc., which often hosts charity beauty days for seniors in Simi Valley, said the basin takes the place of a traditional shampoo station and can adjust to different wheelchair heights and tilt to accommodate individuals.
“The beauty industry is all about making people feel good about themselves,” he said. “But when someone is in a wheelchair and can’t get their hair washed as part of their service, then we’re not doing anything to make them feel good.”
Nina Myles, CEO of Hair Unlimited West at 540 E. Los Angeles Ave. in Simi Valley, said four of her clients, including Lisa Montoya, have tried out the prototype thus far.
“This (basin) has made a huge difference because I know that disabled people couldn’t get wet services before, and this has opened a huge door for them. It’s just been fabulous so far,” Myles said. “I would love to see at least one of these in every salon because disabled people need this. My goal isn’t to be the only salon that has this (special basin). We’re just the first.”
Knypstra said the $300-billion global beauty industry needs to make changes when it comes to addressing the needs of people with disabilities.
According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 57 million Americans are disabled.
Despite the huge need for special accommodations, Knypstra said, virtually none of the 1.4 million salons nationwide are equipped to serve people who use wheelchairs or are deaf, developmentally disabled or blind. Nor can those in hospice or at hospitals receive services.
Knypstra was inspired to create the basin in 1994, after washing the hair of a friend’s hospitalized mother.
He said she’d been in the hospital for some time and the staff was using dry shampoo to clean her hair rather than washing it.
“I brought a blow-up shampoo bowl. . . . The dry shampoo had made her scalp a mess,” he said. “She literally woke up for a second after I did her hair and you could see her eyes light up. Unfortunately, she’s passed away now, but that’s where it all started for me.”
Knypstra completed the first version of his basin about six years ago and sometimes used it during in-home services. Two years ago, he completed the mold for the final product.
Myles said having Knypstra’s mobile basin could go a long way in caring properly for aging baby boomers.
“As a stylist, my job is made a lot easier by having this basin because there’s no way I would be able to do what I do for people like Lisa,” she said. “We’re able to serve a larger population of people and make them feel good.”
Knypstra said he wants to do more in the near future than just selling the basins.
He is working with Assemblymember Dante Acosta to get legislators to require mobile wash basins in salons, beauty schools, hospitals and care homes as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Knypstra has received hundreds of requests nationwide for the basins, which will cost about $225 each. Proceeds from the sale of the basins will go toward funding Ridone projects.
With the design of the basin finalized, the nonprofit founder said he now needs to raise about $20,000 to cover production costs. He currently has $7,000.
For Montoya, the mobile basin has made a formerly uncomfortable experience more enjoyable.
“I just love how getting my hair done feels,” she said. “The new shampoo bowl has changed everything. I can’t thank Don enough.”
For more information about Ridone and the mobile wash basin or to make a donation, contact Knypstra at (888) 699-8879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.