It's all about fun and play at new kids salon

As so many spas and salons turned kids away as a result of the "noise" factor, a bright spark saw the gap and used the idea to cater exclusively to children.

The trend has since taken off worldwide, as more spas are offering mini-massages, and pamper parties for kids.

Kiddocut is an Iceland-themed hair salon in Fourways catering exclusively to children.

Their decor speaks to the little ones, with the stylist having a sailboat workstation.

It is colourful with big TV screens showing kids shows.

Most people don't cut their baby's hair until they are a year old - here they make the experience memorable by gifting you a certificate with the child's first lock of hair. But they are not the first or only hair salon to do this locally.

Lifestyle's Chop It in Randburg was the first of its kind in South Africa. They opened more than 12 years ago.

Their setting is a magical forest with murals on the walls, ceilings and furniture with a number of stylistic strands of hair. They offer a play area as well as a TV showing only kids-related content.

But a boys short and sides is not going to cost you R30 like the local Pakistani down the road or the eKasi street barber.

If your child is between two and 13 years old, a little girl's haircut will cost you from R115 to R140, while a Clipper shave will set you back R95.

Candi and Co, who specialise in black hair, also recently opened their market to kids by providing moms and kids packages - a specially trained stylist and special products to work with children's hair.

But Afrokids Salon has to be the ones who have done it right.

They opened their doors in September and are based in Rivonia Village in Sandton. Nthabeleng Nhlapo was the brains behind the concept.

"I needed to venture into this business by offering a unique experience for children, as I myself was getting frustrated at the lack of kids-friendly salons in the area I lived," she says.

They also cater for young boys. From freehand cornrows, needle cornrows, freehand singles, braids, Benny & Betty, brush cut, to Mohawk etc.

"Our prices are very competitive, ranging from R80 for a cut to R300 for cornrows, depending on the style.

"We offer a dynamic, colourful and interactive environment for our little customers so they can unleash their creativity through fun-educational play.

"From watching their favourite kids-friendly cartoons, to drawing on our wall-sized chalkboard, we provide age-appropriate activities for little ones who are not quite at the age where they get this whole hair thing."

Nhlapo thought she would struggle with sponsors, especially those that cater for African hair. "But Caivil came on board immediately. They saw my vision as they have a child-friendly product range and for both of us, it was the perfect fit," says Nhlapo.

She now hopes to extend the business to other areas, with Pretoria East first on the list.

The hair salon also offers pamper party packages for girls and boys.

Pampering little princes and princesses

Gone are the days when a store-bought cake or a little celebration at a local family restaurant would be good enough.

Parents today want high-end birthday parties for their children.

From pamper to couture, only luxury will do. And, if you thought pamper parties sound fancy, you haven't heard of couture parties.

This is a service offered by Black Olive Events in Jozi, owned by Leandre Abvajee who left the corporate world to focus on her passion. "I was on track with my career, and climbing the corporate ladder one stiletto at a time! But something was missing. After 10 years, I resigned. I was one of the very few lucky ones that 'fell' into their passion."

She says Black Olive is for couture parties like Gucci is to fashion. "A couture kids' party essentially is one of creation. It's a fancy way of saying nothing is off the shelf. We hand pick every item which, when all pieces come together fits perfectly, like a couture designer dress. Our discerning clientele are always looking for something unique when celebrating their little prince or princess."

The firm has catered for actress, writer and performance poet Lebogang Mashile and footballer Steven Pienaar's children as well as many other top-end clients.

A couture party like this can set you back quite a penny.

"The extent of how glam the client wants to go depends on how deep they are prepared to dig into their savings account. In all honesty, everything has gone up, and the 1% VAT increase and high inflation rate is hitting everyone hard. Parents want a high-end event, but are trimming down on cost. As a creative director I find ways of meeting the wish list. After the cake is eaten and the gorgeous flowers die, you don't want to sit with huge event debt," she says.

Her pamper spa parties come in the form of a decadent kiddies' high tea.

"The treatment packages all depend on the age of the group. Natural and organic products are definitely encouraged as they are free from any harmful chemicals. Treatments like "My first facial" are always a hit as it is made up with chocolate and cocoa, decadently yum!

Pampering the kiddies

Burgundy Events is owned by the mother and daughter team of Busi Masabalala and Palesa Khambi.

They offer pamper parties in Johannesburg for kids from ages nine upwards.

Their packages include themed goodie bags (filled with beauty treats), robes and slippers for each guest, a massage station, a mani and pedi station, a facial station, seating lounge area as well as mock champagne.

They custom develop themes, table scapes, entertainment, food and beverages to make the parties memorable and unique.

They also source venues for clients on request and offer a mobile service.

"I think girls are exposed to the activities their moms, aunts, older sisters get up to and want to emulate that. So they request our services more," says Khambi.

Try something different, like sushi lessons

Lisa Oosthuizen bought into the Oohlala franchise last year. She now runs the East Rand and Joburg South franchises.

More than pamper parties for girls, they also offer sushi parties for boys.

"I happened to stumble on Oohlala, when I was looking for ideas for my daughter's birthday. Our pamper parties are mainly aimed at girls, but I've had a few boys also join in.

"We recently expanded our offering to also include boys by introducing the Sushi Chef parties, where kids (and often adults too) get taught how to make their own sushi.

The mobile set-up offers a great variety of different pre-set packages. Prices range from R150 per child.

The massage therapist treats party girls and guests to neck and shoulder massages, as well as other treatments.

A few venues the kids can get a spa experience

For a real spa experience, try the following:

  • Durban: Mangwanani African Kids Spa in Ushaka Kids' World.
  • Muldersdrift: Riverview Spa for Little Ladies who can indulge in kiddies' bubbly.
  • Arniston: Arniston Luxury Spa's Ginkgo Teen Spa provides a few options for 6 to 12-year-olds.
  • Cape Town: Mint Wellness, in Camps Bay offers treatments with milkshake.
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