The Secret Behind this Child Hair Care Franchise

Updated on 9 November 2016

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Franchising opportunities in the child sector continue to enjoy a strong showing in South Africa. Findings from a 2015 survey by the Franchise Association of South Africa show that childcare, education and training occupies 8% of the local franchising market.

Maddy Magoo, a range of hair care salons is hoping to take advantage of this growing market. The chain of salons focuses specifically on hair care, cuts and styling for children.

The salons were founded by Lauren de Swardt, a ‘mumpreneur‘ who is also behind Kids Emporium, a successful chain of children’s boutiques selling everything from children’s clothing, furniture and decor, with over 30 thriving stores and which has recently opened its doors in the UK.

The pilot hair salon was launched in Honeydew five years ago followed by four other branches in Gauteng.  Maddy Magoo is now available in Pretoria and in other parts of the country, with the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal being next on the list.

According to De Swardt, her own children’s hair care needs inspired Maddy Magoo.

“I’m a mother of two and I realised the need for a child-friendly salon after my then four year old son refused to go to the hairdresser. It dawned on me that not all hair salons cater for children’s needs and they can seem very frightening to a young child. I was also rather amazed that there were no hair salons that catered for people from all ethnic backgrounds under one roof – thus Maddy Magoo was formed.”

Salons are built to cater to the needs of children including tweens – with hairdressers trained to both work with children and to cut and style all hair types, from curly locks and straight layers to afros and braids.

Other amenities offered make Maddy Magoo more than a typical hair salon. “The various activities children can experience at the salons include a before and after photograph, a personalised Certificate of Bravery for their first haircut and a lock of hair as a keepsake. In addition to this, Maddy Magoo offers glamour parties which caters for six to 20 girls, from the age of five and up. The birthday girl receives a CD of photos to remember the special occasion as well as a Maddy Magoo voucher as a birthday gift,” says De Swardt

SME South Africa speaks to De Swardt about their franchise model and the size of the child hair care market.

Q: What gap in the market is Maddy Magoo filling?
Maddy Magoo fills an obvious gap in the market.  If you consider any residential area, hair salons are an obvious service.  We looked at a number of areas and within a 2 km radius, some would have up to six hair salons however not one would actually facilitate children.

Although none would turn away kids, none would offer child friendly hair stylists, entertainment and a space that would ensure a child feels comfortable. An average school going child should have their hair cut every 6-8 weeks hence Maddy Magoo has a huge following of loyal returning customers.

Q: What franchise model do you use?
Our business is franchised although we like to look at it as a partnership between our stores and our head office. We offer a turnkey operation with full guidance and support from our team based in Cape Town. We work closely with the franchisee through a smooth set up and training process and assist wherever necessary once doors are open.

Q: How do you choose your franchisees?
The most common question is does one have to be a hair stylist? Our answer is no however one does require business and management skills. We look for franchisees who are wanting to be in the children’s industry, have a passion for our brand and service offering and like to work with both parents and kids.

Q: How big is the market for child haircare?
It is a huge market and in the US, it is seen as one of the fastest growing franchise concepts. It’s a service driven franchise that offers both retail and party services.  Although treatments are often simple as children do not require advanced treatments, there is still a need to have neatly cut, well maintained hair.

Maddy Magoo is completely inclusive and is about servicing all hair types and have seen a very positive uptake regarding ethnic hair services.

At Maddy Magoo we are also passionate about making sure that children look after themselves and try and instill a sense of pride about how we look. We communicate that looking after one’s body is very important and like all other things, they need to be looked after.

Q: How receptive has the market been to the concept?
The market has been very receptive. We have four stores up and running with another two on the horizon. We are excited about the growth of our brand and bringing this concept to each and every neighbourhood in South Africa.

Q: While your clients are children, you market to their parents – what has been your strategy in this regard?
Ultimately parents decide where to take their children. Although we position ourselves to parents as they are currently the decision makers, it is great to see kids come into our salons and be pleasantly surprised at how our concept is actually built for them. Parents can totally appreciate the look and feel of our salon and more importantly the time we take with their children.

Q: What is your current growth goal and strategy?
We believe 2017 will be the year of Maddy Magoo. We would like to expand our brand across South Africa and eventually consider stores across borders. We are looking for the right franchisees however, we will be following the same location plan as our sister brand, Kids Emporium who has 30 well placed stores around the country. The idea is to ensure our market has access hence we hope to see a Maddy in every neighbourhood.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that you are facing?
Finding the right franchisees as well as staff can be trying. We are highly passionate about our brand and our biggest challenge is to constantly ensure our franchisees and their staff are equally as motivated and energized. We have a number of strategies in place to ensure our brand is well presented as it grows.

Q: How do you choose your locations? 
Kids Emporium has a very successful location strategy hence we will be going the same route.  We want to start with city centres and work our way out.  It is important to cover all main cities namely Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban and will then consider small cities as we go.

Q: Is there potential to expand globally with such an offering?
This is definitely a consideration. We would like to expand our brands into Sub Sahara and consider countries like Botswana, Namibia and Kenya.  However, should one of the other continents be keen, we would definitely explore.

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