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Remember when all that many little girls wanted was the chance to get their hands on mom’s nail polish and little boys lived for the chance to splash on dad’s cologne?
Well, the beauty treatment bar has been raised since then and manicures, pedicures, pamper parties and hairstyling are no longer the exclusive domain of adults.
These services are growing in popularity among children, as they, too, develop a growing appetite for the finer things in life.
In the Belvedere Square complex in Claremont is the newest kid on the kiddies’ salon block – Maddy Magoo.
Owner Nazeema Rylands, who has two daughters, aged nine and six, says it was difficult to find a specialised salon for her children.
Children are very sensitive, she explained, and one bad experience, with a haircut or otherwise, can put them off repeating the activity.
Often, she says, adult salons are not very child-friendly. “They are not made to feel relaxed and welcome.”
Her vision for her salon, which opened recently, is a place where children can go to have fun.
To make her young clients feel comfortable, Rylands offers them a movie to watch while their hair is being cut, or crayons and a colouring book.
Fuzlin Gamieldien, owner of the Kids Hair Studio in Plumstead, has been in the business since 1998 and agrees that there are many hairdressers who don’t work with children.
“Not all hairdressers can work with children. It takes a special kind of person,” she says.
In her experience, children are often scared and cry during their first visit, so she has novel trucks, tractors, motorbikes and trains for them to sit in while they have their hair done.
And the demand for this specialised service is huge. The number of clients Gamieldien’s three-member team sees varies from 10 to 40 children a day, with their busiest times being weekends and school holidays.
At Kidstation in Tyger Valley, the young clients are also made to feel right at home. The salon, which was started in 2009, is filled with life-size characters, the main one being a friendly pair of scissors called Snip.
The business idea was born out of Latasha Scholtz’s love for children, and her husband and business partner, Angelo Scholtz, says they will do whatever it takes to keep the kids happy – from blowing bubbles to making funny faces.
On entering Maddy Magoo, a child is welcomed by a stylist and is taken through a consultation. Once the child, with the help of mom or dad, has specified what they want – some ask for a haircut, but refuse the wash – they can decide on a movie to watch while the stylist goes to work.
Not all their young clients opt to sit in the custom-designed children’s chairs. Stylist Samantha van der Merwe recalls going down on all fours to cut a little girl’s hair as she lay sprawled on the floor.
Girls can also opt for a manicure and pedicure as part of their package, and
other than having their hair done, girls – from age six – can indulge in a birthday diva or princess pamper party. This includes painting each others’ nails and getting glammed up in feather boas. It ends with a fashion parade.
Other services include a first haircut package, which Rylands says is “a big deal”, but more so for the parents than their children. “For the parents, seeing their (children’s) hair cut away for the first time is very emotional,” says Rylands.
“Hair is a very personal relationship. You have to build trust,” says Gamieldien. She has seen some clients progress from the baby chair all the way through to high school. For some, Gamieldien is the only person they’ll allow near their hair.
“It’s awesome to help kids turn a dreaded exercise into one that is fun. And of course, children can be very entertaining and fun too,” Scholtz says.