Five questions to... Maya Abbar
The adult spa industry in Dubai has been thriving for years and while some salons offer services for the younger generation, children have been given a spa they can call all their own.
Tickles and Giggles, located on the Sadaf Plaza level of Jumeirah Beach Residence, recently opened offering both pampering services with hair care and complete party solutions.
The store has a hair salon, as well as nail bar, complete with cosy dressing gowns for the little nippers, plus a huge party room that has catered to an array of bashes from aeroplane themes with sandwiches cut into the shape of aircraft and "cabin crew" serving guests to a Minnie Mouse theme in which everything was done in homage to the Disney favourite.
Emirates Business caught up with American owner Maya Abbar, 25, to find out more about the venture that pulled her away from her former career as an investment banker.
How did the idea of combining a party store with a children's spa come about?
I'd been dying to do it for 18 months. My husband and I realised that there was not a salon for kids or any tasteful party suppliers. There are kids spas in the US but we decided to put everything together in one place and it's been a passion of mine ever since.
What makes Tickles and Giggles different?
We are a truly, truly unique place. I don't think we have any competition. We don't repeat any themes as we really want to give children the birthday of a lifetime so we tailor everything. Our location helps a lot because we have the lawn out the front so can have games out there as well as in the party room. People are ready for something new and we offer that.
Do parents splash out on their child's party?
We had one party with 65 children and 60 parents, which cost Dh25,000. I didn't think there was anything tasteful in Dubai before we opened but we sell designer brands and offer complete solutions in every colour scheme. People spend different amounts but I don't think there's anything nicer than a colourful table. It's nice to have paper products that match a theme. You don't have to do fine dining anymore. You can get away with paper products and still make it a lot of fun.
Do you think parents are influenced by what they see in Hollywood and the pampering of A-list children?
In the US there is the Suri Cruise influence but here parents do it because it's the Middle East. It's crazy but we get one-year-olds coming in for mani-pedis. I check out celeb baby blogs but they are in a world of their own. All the products we use here are water-based and don't have chemicals so they're safe for children.
Is it important for girls to be aware of their looks from an early age?
There is a new awareness for girls taking care of themselves. Coming here is a nice treat – I don't expect a mum to bring her daughter every two weeks. I don't want it to be a place for spoiled kids. The most important thing was that we wanted to keep it cosy and homely. We know all our clients and kids by their first names – service is vital.
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