I recently read a piece in The New York Times about the indulgence of girls getting spa services at an ever-younger age. The article questioned whether girls are growing up too fast and whether today’s society is turning our youth into consumers at too young of an age. The article states, “Today, cosmetic companies and retailers increasingly aim their sophisticated products and service packages squarely at 6- to 9-year-olds, who are being transformed into savvy beauty consumers before they’re out of elementary school.”

Apparently it’s something youth market analysts are calling KGOY (kids getting older younger). We’ve all seen it happening over the years. And while I don’t like seeing little girls wearing makeup outside of playing dress up, I don’t see the harm in pedicure parties. To me that’s like the ultimate dress-up party with your friends. It’s social. It’s girly. It’s fun.

I’m not advocating full acrylic sets for girls under, say 16, but if a group of 10-year-olds want to get together for pedicures, snacks, and a little fun, I think that’s great. When I was visiting Mani Pedi Cutie in Hermosa Beach recently (see my On The Road piece on page 52), there were two tween girls getting pedicures and manicures. Their moms had dropped them off and they were coming back to pick them up after their services. The girls chatted, watched “High School Musical” on the flatscreen TV, and showed off their multi-hued fingernails to owner Ally Conley. It’s a fun treat and a nice way for girls to hang out together.

Part of Conley’s salon caters to youth. She also has an “adult section” in the salon that is doing a sizable amount of business, but she went out of the way to create a special space just for kids. The pedicure stations in the “kid section” are smaller for her little guests. She hosts Teen Tuesdays and has makeup and skin care lessons for teens on Saturdays in a special room. She has Mommy and Me services and the salon has “clients” as young as 3 years old. (One little boy who looked about 4 years old was having his nails clipped and shaped alongside his mom when I was there.)

There’s also a salon in Hollywood called Spa Di Da that’s just for kids. It’s a full-service salon that also offers classes (yoga, salsa, skin care) for its young clients. Owner Maria Botham wanted to create a space for kids (ages 2-10) where they felt comfortable and where things were customized to their needs and their smaller size. (You can read about the salon in our November 2007 issue or online at www.nailsmag.com/pastissues. Click on November 2007 and then “A Child’s Tale.”)

You don’t have to take it to this extreme, but have you considered adding a few youth-focused services? They don’t need to include as many extras and you can charge a lower price so it’s affordable. It helps create good nail care habits at a younger age and it also helps to establish your future salon customers. Little girls will be little girls, and pedicures certainly aren’t the impetus for kids getting older younger.

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