TAUNTON — Motee Kallon, a Liberian based in the United Kingdom is doing all to help, as she enjoyed helping others in Taunton a large town in Somerset, England. The town’s population in 2011 was 69,570. Taunton has over 1,000 years of religious and military history, including a 10th century monastery and Taunton Castle.
In this part of England, less than two weeks ago, Kallon opened Motee’s Beauty Salon as a means of continuing what had been a “side job” for her since she was first inspired to cut hair while attending high school.
Today, as she explained to a local online outlet, www.patriotledger.com , said the goal of her salon is to accommodate any customer who walks through the doors — even those with hair types who may have had difficulties in the past in finding a consistent stylist able to adequately handle their locks.
“I want anyone to be able to just come in and feel comfortable knowing that they can get their hair cut…everyone with any hair type is welcome here,” said Kallon, who opened her salon at 425 Bay St.
“My goal is to encourage everyone to feel beautiful and just relax.”
Kallon — who immigrated to the United States from Liberia in 1998 and moved to Taunton from Boston three years ago, has also established a home base for another business she has run for the past four years , the Motee’s Events and Floral Design.
People looking to plan events ranging from weddings to birthday parties can use Kallon’s services to not only find the perfect venue on a tight budget, but also to rent décor and other items.
Kallon has opened a showroom in the back of the salon, where customers can stop by to look at different fabrics for table coverings, for example.
″(The business) has been coming along through the years. This is the first time I’ve needed to open a showroom. People like to see in-person to see for themselves what they’re ordering,” she said.
In the past few weeks since the salon has opened, Kallon said that she has steadily garnered a new customer base in addition to clients she has worked with before – both as a part-time hairdresser and through her social services work at Vinfen Corporation in Boston, a provider of community-based services to people with psychiatric conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and behavioral health challenges.
Due to the season, most of the customers she has seen so far have requested braiding or weaving. Kallon also offers other beauty services including coloring, extensions and “everything but massages and nails.”
Kallon works with people who have disabilities at Vinfen, and has typically taken them out for haircuts as a form of therapy.
As a result of the patience Kallon has learned to exhibit with others as a result of her experiences in social work, she said that dealing with clients in her job as a hairdresser and beauty stylist has become much easier.
With a 1,400 square foot-space fitted with rows of barber’s chairs and mirrors, sinks, driers and a waiting area with several couches, Kallon encourages anyone seeking a new hairdo or makeover to stop by, regardless of their past experiences at other salons that may not have been able to serve them.
“For example, a patient with Tourette’s (syndrome) might go to a salon alone and the employees might not know how to react, or might not even recognize the disability at all,” she said.
“I have a background to deescalate those situations, and it really helps with children who are on edge getting their first haircuts. I know how to approach them when they sit down and make the whole experience better for them.
Having grown up in Liberia during the country’s first Civil War from 1989 to 1996 and encountered many individuals negatively impacted by the violence — both physically and mentally — Kallon said that she had always wanted to get into a field where she could learn about others’ problems and then help them to overcome them.
In Nimba County, Liberia, for example, just under 50 percent of individuals born before the war reported having experienced the murder or death of a close friend or family member, according to a 2008 study conducted through the National Institutes of Health.
Before she moved to Taunton, Kallon lived in Boston for several years and graduated from UMass Boston in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in human services and management and worked at Cinderella Hair Salon in Brockton, also doing haircuts for the elderly as a part of her studies.
“If you were mentally ill in Liberia, we didn’t look at the root cause of the issue. We were just told to avoid those people. A lot of kids my age have mental illness and disabilities, and that’s one of the reasons I went into it,” said Kallon.
“We didn’t understand in Liberia when people acted out…and if you don’t understand something, you’re more likely to be afraid of it.”
To become licensed by the state, Kallon said she received her training at Rob Roy Academy, from which she now serves some of her former clients.
So far, the young business owner said that her immediate goal is to help get more clients through the doors – an initial challenge that she had already anticipated, having put out several advertisements and fliers in advance.
Currently, Kallon said she is looking to hire another stylist and is also renting out chairs to outside stylists who need a location to cut their clients’ hair; customers can either walk-in for appointments or reserve a time slot by booking on the salon’s website, https://moteesbeautysalon.com/.
With a central location where she can help others — whether it be through a relaxing hair styling, or in securing an affordable dream venue for a wedding – Kallon said that she intends to stay put in the Silver City for years to come.
“Where I grew up, it was on the farm. That’s why I came out here. It’s quieter (than Boston) and I really like the environment. My friend had drove by this location and saw that it was for rent and what attracted us at first was the bus stop right in front, but the neighbors have all been very nice,” she said.
“I like to think that I’m a good hairdresser, but every day is still a learning experience in getting to know my customers, because the hair style has to fit the personality.”