It all started with a birthday party. Last January, Marsha Coppola, owner of NeVaeh Day Spa in Ontario, Canada, got a call from a client, begging her to host her daughter’s 12th birthday. “She didn’t want a kids’ princess party; she wanted to be a teenager,” Coppola says. “But the other local high-end spas didn’t permit children.”
Coppola agreed to organize a 2.5-hour spa soiree for the birthday girl plus 10 guests, and the tweens were treated to the works: robes, slippers, cupcakes, fancy spa water, manis/pedis and skincare tutorials. The party was a hit. Soon after, party guests were begging their parents to have birthday parties at NeVaeh. So Coppola created an all-inclusive kids’ spa party promotion (starting at $200), with à la carte services such as the Ice Cream pedicure ($26), makeup lessons ($40) and glitter tattoos ($6). As it turned out, adults loved the parties as much as their kids, because it didn’t require parents to do anything extra. The idea spread, Coppola says, “like wildfire.”
By March, the promotion was so successful, Coppola needed a new, dedicated space for kids. She purchased a second location, a 1,300-square-foot storefront, and redesigned it to achieve a look that was “really photo-friendly, like the funky, kid-friendly version of my other spa.” With a jaunty green-and-white color scheme, the space features multifunctional furniture, a giant pedicure couch, and skin and nail bars. Coppola’s main consideration? “Nothing breakable. I’m a mother myself, after all.”
The new outpost, opened in July, caters to clients age 2 to 16, operates Friday through Sunday and allows parents to get mani/pedis too—but under one condition: they must be accompanied by a child or teen. As a result, mother-daughter and grandmother-daughter nail services have exploded in popularity, Coppola says. “We get families driving in from towns an hour away where I’ve never even advertised!”
NeVaeh Kids Spa parties, the promotion that begat an entirely new facility, aim to create a dream world for young girls. “We don’t do feather boas or runway shows, none of that gimmicky stuff,” Coppola says. “It’s a spa through and through, with professional products, beautiful waffle robes and a serious approach—we talk about the importance of wellness and respecting your body and staying fit. They’re not treated like kids.” And Coppola only hires professionals who are sociable and creative. “I need someone who can understand a child’s vision when they say, ‘I want one finger blue and one with a face,’” she says.
So where did she take this outsized promotion next? To spa camp, of course. Last summer, Coppola designed a weeklong spa day camp serving ages 3 to 9 ($85; mornings) and 10 to 16 ($115; afternoons). “We did tutorials on taking care of your nails, skin and hair; body hygiene; mapping your face; and an intro to makeup. Parents loved it because it was something different and we were teaching campers how to take care of themselves,” she says.
Two cycles of spa camp immediately sold out, and requests for next summer are already coming in. In fact, every NeVaeh Kids Spa promotion—including the Halloween weekend Monster Manicure Marathon for charity—has sold out in advance. “Parents talk,” Coppola explains. “And even though we’re in a down time, mothers will almost always spend money on their children before themselves. I’m the same way. We may put off getting our own pedicures, but if we can share a service while bonding with our kids, we do it.” —Katie O’Reilly