OWENSBORO, Ky. — Since opening her studio in February last year, barber Sam Greer’s goal has been to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities, providing them with quality haircuts and a positive experience.

Greer, along with her wife, owns Precision Studio in Owensboro. The studio, she said, is a full-service salon and barber shop that is dedicated to serving anyone, no matter gender, nationality, race or age.

“Whoever you are, you’re welcome,” she said, “and that’s something I’ve been so adamant about.”

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Greer got her start cutting hair about four years ago in Evansville, holding her first job at a Latino barber shop.

There, she said she worked with a diverse clientele, gaining a perspective on who she was as a barber.

After about a year, she said she moved to Owensboro, where she worked at a shop before deciding to branch out on her own.

When she opened her shop on Triplett Street, Greer said serving a clientele with intellectual disabilities was one of her main goals, inspired by members of her own family.

“That has been something I have aspired to do since I started working in Owensboro,” she said. “I have some cousins — one has Down and one has Asperger (syndromes), and I’ve seen how people treated them; I’ve seen how people weren’t patient, how they weren’t fair.”

While the road to accomplish that goal has never been an easy one, Greer said the reward is well worth it.

“I enjoy the challenge — the reward of seeing their face light up, the reward of seeing them appreciate a service that other people take advantage of,” she said. “I’m sure you go to the salon and get your hair done. You go and you do your thing, and you feel like a million bucks, but I feel like the kids and people with intellectual disabilities … afterwards, they feel so rewarded. They feel brand new, and it may be an experience that they’ve never had before.”

Many times, Greer said, her clients with intellectual disabilities may not have been to a salon or barber shop to get a haircut and have only received cuts from their parents or caregivers. They also may have had a prior negative experience receiving a haircut.

She said her goal is to provide a positive experience for anyone in her studio, no matter who they are or how she has to accomplish that.

Many clients with intellectual disabilities, she said, are not always comfortable being around someone new or having a stranger cut their hair. Getting past that fear, she said, takes patience, persistence and innovation.

“My people that work here with me, they know I cut (the hair of) kids and people with intellectual disabilities, and they know that it won’t always be a pretty experience … but one thing’s for sure, is that they’re going to get just the same quality of haircut as anyone else walking out of here,” she said.

Although Greer said she would never force a haircut on anyone, persistence and patience go a long way to ensure each client is comfortable. And the process gets easier each time a client comes into the studio, she said.

“You have to gain their trust in order for them to feel comfortable,” she said. “I want to make sure that whoever walks through the doors, they’re comfortable. I want to treat everyone the same, and I want everyone to be comfortable coming into my shop.”

Additionally, she said each person working in the studio has their own private workspace, meaning more one-on-one time with each client and an atmosphere that is not too overstimulating.

Greer said she also recently worked with Puzzle Pieces, a local disability nonprofit, to provide haircuts to its clients with intellectual disabilities.

The experience, she said, was “humbling.”

“The guy I cut, when he got finished with his haircut, you could tell he felt like a million bucks,” she said. “He was smiling, and he hadn’t even seen himself yet. He was over-joyous at the simple fact that I was able to provide him a service, and there’s no amount of money that could touch that feeling.

“It’s something that you or I might take advantage of … it becomes a normal routine. For some people, it can’t be a normal routine … and I think that if anybody deserves a solid service, it’s those people.”

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