With the advent of social media, a boy’s first barber visit is pretty much an Instagram rite of passage. But let’s face it: for many first-timers (and second- and third-timers), going to the barbershop can be pretty scary—buzzing clippers, super-sharp shears and stranger danger. So to stem the tears and calm fears, Robb Hanlon introduced Imagination Booster, a multipronged system to create a more enjoyable experience for little ones, barbers and parents alike. Shops can invest in the fire engine-shaped booster seat that comes with a tablet attachment and matching fire chief hair cape. Also available are certificates verifying that the child was brave for their first haircut, as well as a story and activity book illustrated by Rob the Original. And if that weren’t enough, you (or the parent) can also download an app, Haircut Heroes, which includes a story, children’s haircut games, parent tips and a barbershop locator. Hanlon, himself a shop owner, says that Imagination Booster helped to more than quadruple his weekly revenue from kids’ cuts within two years. However, his main driver behind Imagination Booster is simply the desire to make sure kids have fun getting their hair cut. “There are over 23 million children in the United States under the age of six,” Hanlon says. “At Imagination Booster, we believe each of these children deserves a good haircut experience as well as a fun one.”
During Autism Awareness Month in April, five percent of sales will go to Autism Speaks, since children with sensory issues tend to struggle when getting their hair cut.