Milk, Cookies & Pedicures: From Booster Seats to Spa Chairs Milk, Cookies & Pedicures: From Booster Seats to Spa Chairs Talk about a great idea. When cousins Teychenne and Jataon Whitley were planning to open the Milk & Cookies Kids Spa, they were prompted by the fact that there were very few children’s spas on the market that appropriately catered to both girls and boys. “There was a need for it; young girls want to go to the salon with their moms [but] young boys aren’t able to go to the barbershops with their dads because conversations can often be inappropriate” explains Jataon. Being a mom of both a son and daughter, Jataon understood firsthand the need for a unisex children’s spa. Pedi Station. Photo Credit: milkandcookieskidsspa.com “People see the salon and think it looks great but they don’t understand everything that went into it.” So, with Jataon’s children as their muses, the two set out together to create a fun, imaginative, one-stop-salon for boys and girls alike. The spa, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, offers a full range of dessert inspired spa treatments, a complimentary milk and cookies bar (with fresh cookies baked onsite everyday) and now, an exclusive, kid-friendly nail polish collection. Their lacquer line called SPLAT, which is naturally made for kids, features 14 different non-toxic polishes. With a light pink polish named “Strawberry Milkshake” and a dodger blue named “Besties Forever” each name, just like the spa, is adorable and delicious. “We thought about it in the beginning of 2016 and then between April and June, we really reacted to that thought,” explains Teychenne. “We wanted something that belonged to us, that was fun and girly but to also incorporate the non-toxic factor.” The collection is being sold in-store and on the Milk & Cookies website so that “everyone, in New York and internationally, can experience a bit of our magic,” says Jataon. What the Whitley cousins have created is indeed magical; an affordable sanctuary for parents and an unforgettable (and tasty) time for children. “Young girls want to go to the salon with their moms [but] young boys aren’t able to go to the barbershops with their dads because conversations can often be inappropriate” 5 Questions for Innovators What app do you most use? Jataon: Facebook. Teychenne: Instagram. Name a business mogul you admire. J: Sean Puffy Combs. He once said “while you’re sleeping, I’m working” and every time I feel myself getting exhausted, I think about those words. T: Marcus Lemonis. I’m so intrigued how he can reinvigorate a struggling business. What product do you wish you had invented? J: The smart phone…why didn’t I think of that? T: Facebook. What is your life motto? J: If you don’t quit in life you will make it, you will be successful. T: Develop a blue print to create and build an empire. Desert Island. Three things, go. J: Water, food, slippers. T: Water, deodorant, lip balm. As one can imagine, starting a small business is not always a smooth process. When asked about any challenges faced thus far, Teychenne says that the location selection and construction process proved to be difficult, “People see the salon and think it looks great but they don’t understand everything that went into it,” she says. “A huge challenge was that [the location] didn’t have a bathroom on the main floor, and as per regulations, you must have a bathroom on your floor. “Building a bathroom reduced our budget,” she added. Another big challenge? Hiring salon professionals that delivered quality services while still having the personality to work with children. Teychenne and Jataon Whitley When it came to funding the salon, the duo “pulled money from every which way.” Teychenne notes that the business-minded duo kept its initial ask in the family rather than investors, dipping into savings and acquiring personal loans prior to opening their doors on February 1, 2015. So what’s next for these two entrepreneurs? Plans to franchise their store are in the works for the near future, while the SPLAT nail polish collection, which will expand in the coming months, is available at wholesale to be sold in other salons. Clearly, Milk & Cookies will continue to add a flavorful charm to the Upper East Side. Kelsi Zimmerman Kelsi is a digital beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer who resides in New York City. In addition to SWAAY, she also contributes to Teen Vogue, Women's Health and New Beauty.