MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities woman is looking to change the beauty salon experience for customers with disabilities.

Noises, access and lighting can be a setback for customers who have physical or sensory challenges.

Cat Rongitsch wants to create a salon that’s comfortable for everyone.

When she sits down to do her daughter Maddie’s hair, styling often happens in their home. A quick braid doesn’t require a salon setting, but when a beauty shop is needed, 10-year-old Maddie knows that visit isn’t always easy.

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Cat Rongitsch and her family (credit: CBS)

“I know sometimes it might be difficult for wheelchairs. At one salon I couldn’t get up the steps,” Maddie said.

A professional stylist herself, Cat saw a solution. She dreamed of creating a salon accessible to anyone dealing with a disability.

“The community needs this to happen, is ready for it and wants it,” Cat said.

She started a GoFundMe account two weeks ago to raise money for the venture.

“It’s had an amazing response,” Cat said. “People are sharing it all over the place.”

The shop will address more than just spatial limits. Cat knows from personal experience that some people face challenges that aren’t as visible as others.

“My younger daughter, Betty, was born three months early and has developmental delays due to her prematurity,” Cat said.

Her goal is to create a salon sensitive to light, noise and aromas. She envisions calmer lighting, a quiet area if a client needs a moment to themselves and styling products without overpowering aromas.

“Dyson makes these blow driers that are nearly silent and that’s one thing I want to make sure we have in our salon,” Cat said.

She’s getting input on accessibility and calming accommodations from medical experts, but first needs the funding to make it happen

“It would mean a largely-ignored community would finally have a place to go,” she said.

Cat set a modest $25,000 goal for what she considers a dignified approach to beauty.

So far, she has raised more than $4,500 of her goal. Click here to donate.

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