The New Year’s resolution at a hair salon in Ilkeston has been to turn it into a safe haven for customers with mental health problems. 

Barefeet Hair and Beauty, on Bath Street, has been a huge success since it first opened its doors just over a year ago.

But now, the salon has gone a step beyond the usual range of hair care, skin care, massage, pedicure and manicure services. It wants to go deeper than lovely lashes, sparkly nails and facials.

“We feel strongly about helping customers with difficulties to be able to love themselves again,” said owner Gemma Worthington.

“Whether you suffer from mental health, have a disability, are going through a tough time or just feel like treating yourself, we want to make your appointment special.”

Businesswoman Gemma, 38, freely admits that she herself has suffered from depression and anxiety in the past.

She said: “I know how it feels, but I’ve also seen how clients have changed by coming to the salon.

“One lady was so anxious that she didn’t like people touching her. Now she feels like a different woman, both physically and mentally, and loves having a massage.

“Another client had anxiety issues that were so massive she wouldn’t even look at herself in the mirror.

“There are lots of people like this who just want to have their hair done or a massage.”

Barefeet, which employs eight members of staff, has already earned a reputation for excellent customer-service in the short time the salon has been open. But Gemma is keen to take that to a different level with this new service.

“I am determined to push it, even if it means shutting the salon for a couple of hours on a Sunday,” she added.

“We are a very chilled-out salon, where nothing is rushed. We are down to earth, not glamorous.

“We pride ourselves on creating a welcoming, relaxing, homely and non-judgmental environment.

“Our mantra has always been ‘love the skin you’re in’. We want all clients to feel confident in themselves.”

Gemma leads a tight-knit team at Barefeet that also includes Tia Morgan, Leah Roper, Kate Richmond, Linda Stocks, Sophie Reed, Mark Brierley and Katie Dowen.

The salon is open from 9 am to 9 pm every day except Mondays.

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