Meraki Cuts was founded by Brittney Vandervate in 2019 after she finished Cosmetology School. The business is “an on site salon that provides quality services to the disability community in Central Indiana at their homes, places of business, clinics, schools, etc. Meraki Cuts offers standard salon services with a primary focus on hair cuts.” Enjoy the interview with Brittney below: 

Tell us a little about yourself.

“My name is Brittney Vandervate. I am a mom, a business owner, a professional crisis management instructor, a special education teacher, and a hair stylist. I have merged my love for all these things and created a business that I am truly passionate about. I worked for a local ABA clinic for about 6 year then decided to take a leap of faith to start Meraki Cuts. In my free time I love spending time with my 5 year old son. We enjoy playing games, going on walks, adventures, snuggles, nerf wars, and more!

When I am not working for Meraki, I substitute teach in a few local school districts and also instruct crisis management training for schools and therapy centers.”

How and when did Meraki Cuts get started? 

“I went to cosmetology school knowing little to nothing about hair. After 10 months in school I graduated and opened Meraki Cuts in March 2019. I have now spent the past year building partnerships and relationships in the community.  I had a vision to help and I was determined to make it happen.”

Do you go to your client’s location or do you have a salon space?

“Right now I am solely an on-site salon. Meaning I travel to the clients. I partner with schools, therapy centers, and home visits. I felt that allowing individuals to stay in their natural environment would possibly eliminate the extra stress or anxiety that may come with the hair cutting experience. At this time, I do not have a salon space but in the future it is definitely something I keep my mind open to! I know there are many families out there that would love to be able to transition their loved ones into a “salon setting” and I think it would be awesome to be able to transition with them after a relationship and trust is already established.”

What were your goals when starting Meraki Cuts? How have they changed since then?

“When I thought about starting Meraki, I knew that I wanted to help people. I felt in my field of work I saw a problem for individuals and their families and no real solutions. I wanted to merge my passion for children and individuals with disabilities and come up with a better solution for all.”

Where do you hope to see Meraki Cuts in 5 years?

“In 5 years, I would love to have partnered with many more therapy facilities and schools. Also, as mentioned before, I would be interested in having a space in a salon for individuals to transition to when ready.”

What do you feel that you bring to the table for Meraki Cuts that is different from others in the industry?

“I feel that my background and experience brings a lot to the table. Again, I have worked with individuals with disabilities for 10+ years now and feel that I have seen a lot of different scenarios. There are not many situations that can catch me off guard. The word Meraki means to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself in your work. This is exactly what I get to do everyday! I have learned that in this industry, time is money. A lot of times when we as individuals go to an apt we are in and out quickly so the next person can sit in the chair. I have learned that when working with children especially ones that fear the process, it can take time. Time to build trust. Time to make them feel safe. And whether a haircut takes 20 minutes or an hour and 20 minutes I am willing to give that individual the time.

Aside from my experience, I am a pretty fun and silly person. So I LOVE having fun with the kiddos!”

What is a fun story about a client that you worked with?

“I have such great stories about many of my clients! From singing songs, to counting numbers, all the way to cutting hair while swinging on a swing.

A story that I love is when I got to work with a 5 year old. Going in I only knew one thing. She HATED hair cuts. When I first arrived, the sight of each new tool (comb, brush, spray bottle, shears, etc.) was extremely feared and anxiety driven. This little girl sang to me “I am scared, it hurts” in a soft sweet voice. I sang back “you are brave”! After some quality time together we were able to spray almost all of the hair wet, comb through the hair (still with fear but being brave) and scissors were touching our head! We did not get a haircut on this first visit but we did make great progress. I’ve learned what might be baby steps to some are actually huge steps towards our overall goal.

I might be biased but my clients are seriously the BEST!”

Who do you work with and where?

“I will serve anyone! If you are in need of a beauty service, reach out. I serve clients in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas.”

What is something that you want people to know that you feel like isn’t known about Meraki Cuts and what you do?

“While Meraki Cuts primary focus is serving individuals with disabilities I also offer many other services. I enjoy coloring hair, providing waxing services and am also certified in hand tied hair extensions.”

Are there any other businesses like yours that directly help individuals with disabilities or do you feel that you are the only one doing it?

“I do not believe there are any other companies in the Indy area that specialize solely in helping individuals with disabilities. I do know there are many great stylists out there that have experience with people with disabilities whether it be family members or previous work. I strongly feel the more the merrier! We all know it takes a village to set our children up for success in life so that more people that want to help the better!”

How did you find out about Synapse Sitters?
“I met the owner of Synapse Sitters, Marie Maher, while working at an ABA clinic. I loved the concept behind Synapse Sitters and was interested in partnering with her to help provide quality sitters for families. I too signed up for the site!”
Can you share about your experience working for Synapse Sitters?
“I have met some great families through Synapse Sitters. A funny story, I had a dad reach out stating they believed I would be a good fit for their family. After seeing their profile picture, I said wait a minute, I cut your child’s hair at their school! A lot of times I don’t get to meet parents during the process so I thought it was great to be able to say ‘I know your child, and we already have a great relationship!'”
If you want to learn more about Meraki Cuts and follow along with updates on their Facebook page here