Go Ask Mom

New hair salon caters to kids, including those with special needs

Matt and Angela Murphy, who will open their second Cookie Cutters location in the Triangle next month, share details about the business and how they make a haircut special for all of their young customers.

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Matt and Angela Murphy, Cookie Cutters owners
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

After careers at other businesses, Matt and Angela Murphy, parents of two in Holly Spring, decided to launch a business of their own.

The couple has opened one Cookie Cutters in Raleigh, part of a national chain of salons that cater to kids, and plans to open a second in Cary this September. Before the leap, Matt had worked in financial services for 24 years, leading large teams of operational professionals. And Angela had worked in administrative and operational support, mostly in the nonprofit and community service world.

I checked in with the couple to learn more about Cookie Cutters, including their efforts to make it easier for kids with autism and other special needs to get a haircut.

Here's a Q&A:

Go Ask Mom: Why did you decided to bring Cookie Cutters here?

The Murphys: In 2016, Matt’s career was interrupted by a corporate reorganization, and we began looking at business ownership opportunities. We fell in love with Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids from the very start.
As parents, we have had experiences getting our kids’ hair cut at adult-centered salons, and the experience was always very hit-and-miss. We wanted to provide a consistent, fun experience that builds the confidence of both the child and the parent. We create a fun, engaging environment where we hope the child will have a blast. And we recognize that sometimes kids are scared, unhappy or just having a bad day, and that’s OK – we’re ready for that, too, and the parents will never feel like that was a problem or an inconvenience for us.

GAM: What appealed to you guys about running your own business like this? How does it fit in with family life?

The Murphys: We simply love our lives in the Triangle and can think of no place where we would rather raise a family. We are proud to run a business that helps contribute to that environment. This is such a family-friendly place to be – we love being a part of that.

GAM: What makes Cookie Cutters a fun or different place for kids to get their hair cut?

The Murphys: There are some obvious and not-so-obvious ingredients that make Cookie Cutters different. Our space is designed to be fun for kids - from the fantasy chairs, TVs at every cutting station and indoor play space, to the balloons and lollipops that follow every haircut. More subtle, but as important, is how we interact with children and their parents. We want kids to be part of the experience. We never want them to feel like the haircut is happening “to” them. We want them to be engaged and part of the discussion. Our stylists love kids, and they are pros both at providing a terrific haircut and at having a warm conversation with young guests. That’s not always easy!

Still less obvious from the outside, we seek to provide an employment experience for our team members that is different from anything they’ll find from other salons. Matt has been leading teams of people for many years and enjoys helping people accomplish their most important professional and personal dreams. We love our team members, and we work daily to make sure they know we care for them and are grateful to have them on our team.

GAM: You offer some special accommodations for kids with special needs. What are those all about?

The Murphys: Haircuts can be traumatic for children with autism or sensory issues and for their families. So we provide training to every stylist to ensure that they are prepared to help children with special needs feel comfortable through the process. We have purchased special toys and accessories – fidget toys and weighted lap blankets – to help calm anxious kids. And we work with parents to plan the best time for them to visit the salon, sometimes even opening early to provide a quiet environment for our most anxious guests. It’s a true joy to watch an anxious child start to trust the stylist, settle in to the haircut and give hugs when it’s all done!

GAM: Where can people find you in the Triangle?

Our North Raleigh location is at 6300 Creedmoor Rd, at the corner of Creedmoor and Lynn in the Lynnwood Collection (Kroger) Shopping Center. Our Cary location will open in early September at 1233 Kildaire Farm Rd., in Salt Box Village. And our colleague, Nathan Simms, owns and operates the Cookie Cutters in Durham at 1829 Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy.

Go Ask Mom features local parents every Monday.

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