LINCOLN, Maine (WABI) - When Melissa Ouellette bought Meraki she was a buying a place for stylists to work and make a living. But, she also wanted her salon to be more. To be a place where everyone who walked through the door felt like family.
"We have people that come in that don't even have appointments. They come in to do their makeup, they come in to say hi. They come in just to see us and that was my goal," she says.
"This salon has meant a lot," says Desiree Macalino.
As a stylist at the salon, she says she appreciates the creative freedom she has at Meraki and the ability to make all of her clients feel comfortable at any age.
"When my salon kids, as I call them, come in they see my face and it's a familiar face that they know they're in a good place and they're in good hands," says Macalino.
His mom, Taylor Shorey says his autism sometimes makes new experiences like getting a haircut difficult and uncomfortable for the three year old.
"Specifically, with Wyatt it's touch, or texture or sound or anything that can stimulate the brain," she says.
But that was no problem for Desiree. Over the course of a two year period she made Meraki a place Wyatt felt comfortable coming in to.
"When he comes in now he comes right for me and has his way of saying 'hello, hi, I'm here.' And, we sit in on the floor and we watch movies, we play with tanning lotion, we play with toys and we just have fun and we've built this relationship of trust that only he and I understand except for his parents," she says.
"Not only a mom of an autistic child but as a mom in general, that's all you ever hope for is that you'll have somebody that loves your child as much as you do and accepts them and knows what it takes to make them happy," says Shorey.
They want other parents to know Meraki is a place they don't have to worry about what their child might need or how their child might act. Desiree even posted on Facebook to let others know.
"I just would love to see everybody become more compassionate and willing to learn different situations because it can only better you as a person and a stylist," she says.
The ladies at Meraki have helped other kids with different needs have happy experiences, too.