Awave of beauty businesses have recently banned children outright, with many hitting the headlines. Hair and beauty salon Shine in Southsea, for example, got extensive coverage for its statement that said “Recently we have had a lot of clients bringing children in and letting them run wild, drawing on walls and windowsills, screaming and shouting and breaking things. For clients who come to us to relax, it is not a very nice experience….So, as of now we will be operating a no-child policy”.
As parents juggle increasingly hectic schedules, many bring young children along to beauty or spa appointments due to lack of childcare. However, many of the venues that have barred youngsters say they were forced to do so.
Camilla Thompson, owner of the thriving Camilla Rose salon in Chester, made the decision to ban children from her salon six months into operation. Established now for three years and about to expand into larger premises, Thompson says her rule impacted trade in a positive way.
“We made the decision after several awkward encounters,” she explains. “One of many examples was when my colleague, Jen McCrindle, was doing an HD Brows treatment.
“The client brought her baby along and wanted the child to sit on her knee during the treatment. Jen explained it wasn’t appropriate so the child was placed in her pram but screamed throughout the appointment. The client spent the whole time rocking the pram and then an hour after the appointment we got a text from the client, saying: ‘I’ve just got home and my eyebrows are awful, one is higher than the other’.
“As a mum of four, Jen found the child’s distress upsetting and therefore rushed the treatment, so we had to give a refund.”
Thompson also had equipment, including an expensive nail lamp, broken by children. Furthermore, she says, many parents would try to pacify children with food, leading to a less than clinical environment. “Sometimes coming here is the one peaceful hour clients get in a week,” explains Thompson.
“We also have clients who have very personal things going on at home and because of the nature of what we do, they open up to us. It’s dificult to have those conversations when you’ve got someone else’s child running around.”
Thompson informed her clients of the new policy and relayed the message on new treatment menus. In her automated appointment reminder, sent to each client, part of the text message also reads “we do not allow children”. Customers have been surprisingly supportive.
“It’s been a bit like a ‘no children at weddings’ policy,” she says. “Parents themselves actually like that they can’t bring their kids now and say things like ‘it’s the first time this week I’ve managed to have a hot cup of coffee’. So far, I’ve only a few people who haven’t been happy.”
The salon is open six days a week with three late nights in a bid to accommodate everyone, especially parents. “I’m not trying to make things dificult and I understand that childcare is expensive and most people are juggling parenthood with full-time employment” states Thompson.
“So, there have been times when we’ve itted clients in around their childcare and therapists have stayed until 9.30pm. We’d rather do this to ensure a peaceful, calm, clean salon.”
While children running riot is problematic, it’s no secret that girls are becoming interested in beauty at a younger age. This has inspired what could be one solution to the kids in salons debate – a new type of beauty business aimed specifically at children.
Nicola Byrne, co-owner of successful Liverpool salon chain Urban Calm, says she identified a market opportunity for a high-end kids salon around five years ago, together with her business partner Sharon Doyle.
Byrne said she realised Liverpool needed a place where children could have treatments but mums could also socialise, have a coffee and a treatment with an area for toddlers to play and be safe. Mini Madams opened in April this year and now has clients travelling from as far as Scotland. It offers pamper parties for kids and teens, a day spa menu including Mummy and Me packages, a café and play area. Sometimes there are special activity sessions where children can be left while Mum has a treatment.
As well as using age-appropriate, safe products and magic-themed décor, there is also a focus on inner beauty. “We have inspirational messages featuring in Mini Madams around kindness, conidence, empowerment and friendship,” says Byrne.
“We have a catwalk and, for parties, we ask the children to stand on it and say what they love about the birthday girl or their mummy. It’s about building their conidence and encouraging them to be kind to each other. We also do a bit of meditation when the kids’ facemasks are on and we’re looking at introducing mindfulness classes.”
While Child’s Farm organic products and non-toxic Piggy Paint polish is used on younger children, and applied by party hosts, older children are introduced to proper salon treatments with qualified therapists.
“We have a package called Teen To Queen, for children aged 11 or over, who might be experiencing breakouts. On them, we use Dermalogica’s Clear Start in our skin bar,” says Byrne. “With young children it’s about entertaining them. Older kids want their polish to stay on and we educate them on the safe skin products to use.”
Just as the Urban Calm venues have attracted celebrity clients, Mini Madams pampers the children of footballers and other celebs. The salon now has 10,000 Instagram followers and Byrne says she intends to use this local inluence to do good.
“I’m well aware of the pressure young girls are under to look perfect, and we now have quite a good platform to discuss these issues and set positive examples,” she says. PB