LOS ANGELES — Two friends can prep for a wedding by getting their nails painted, makeup done and hair coiffed for $65 at Monkey Dooz in Riverside, Calif.
It might be a good deal, but it's doubtful brides and bridesmaids are going to stop by. Flower girls are more up Monkey Dooz's alley.
Karla VandenBerg created the children's hybrid spa/salon in 2001 in Yakima, Wash., to coax her haircut-weary son into agreeing to a trim. To appeal to young boys and girls, the walls of the tiny 500-square-foot location were painted in rain-forest murals and the salon chairs were shaped like jeeps.
As an afterthought, VandenBerg added a manicure/pedicure station to entice her daughter to Monkey Dooz as well. "I am a tomboy. I never expected anything to come out of a pedicure," she said.
Something, of course, did come out of the spa services. The demand for so-called mini manis and pedis, at $10 and $18, respectively, soared, and VandenBerg capitalized on their popularity by broadening the spa menu to feature $20 French manicures, $45 exfoliating facials, $20 mud masques, $18 makeup makeovers and $40 faux sun body bronzes.
Immediately, the small Yakima location churned up profits, bringing in over $7,000 in sales a month. Subsequent units — the chain has grown to five; the most recent, the Riverside location, opened late last year — grew in size to around 1,200 square feet and, in revenues, to about $450,000 per year.
Children's services were introduced at adult spas and nail salons to occupy daughters while mothers were being worked on. But as Stephanie DeBonis, owner of Monkey Dooz in Riverside, pointed out, not all women are keen to have their spa visits interrupted by offspring, even their own. "It is your time versus their time," she said.
Catering to kids has become the province of a small crop of spas that is quickly spreading with license and franchise agreements. In addition to Monkey Dooz, which VandenBerg reported has fielded franchise inquiries from as far away as New Delhi, Sweet & Sassy, based in Southlake, Tex., has expanded to eight stores since its 2004 founding and has commitments to reach up to 80 in the next two years. The chain's locations average 3,500 square feet and are done in bright pink and lime green.
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