Little lice - and the families who so desperately want to get rid of them - are responsible for the big growth of the Rapunzel's Lice Boutique, which opened its fourth salon last week in Farmington Hills.
Owner Sarah Casello-Rees, who opened the first boutique in Ann Arbor in 2009, says, "We've been doubling our growth every year."
Sure the ipads, lego tables and TVs have attracted notice for the family-oriented salons but for Rapunzel's growth has come because those pesky head bugs have built up a resistance to traditional treatments and parents want to avoid pesticides to treat a problem that can consume hours, days, weeks, looking for lice and picking nits.
The determined removal specialists at Rapunzel's use a heat treatment and manual removal, a one-time process that is guaranteed.
Rapunzel's started as a mobile operation called the Lice Brigrade in 2008.
"When we opened our first boutique we thought the name was a little too militaristic. We wanted something more comforting," says Casello-Rees.
About 15 employees work for the company and there are more job openings for removal technicians who are paid $25-$35 an hour.
Rapunzel's recently started offering a benefits package to employees.
"As an owner of the company we strive to offer outstanding customer service to the families…and what's equally important is being a good employer," Casello-Rees says.
Employees receive health care coverage and a retirement plan.
"When we started in 2008 we were at the lowest point in our economy, so to do this is no small feat…I call it a recession proof business because people are always willing to pay to get ride of their parasites," says Casello-Rees. "
The Farmington Hills location on Farmington Road opened in response to the large number of Oakland County customers traveling to other shops in other counties.
Besides the Ann Arbor location, which is on Plymouth Road, there are boutiques in Sterling Heights on Metro Parkway and in Grand Rapids.
"It's just like a salon…The only difference is we don't cut hair or wash hair….Licensed hair sons can't treat head lice or service customers with lice," she says. "The hair industry is thrilled we are here….That's where we a get lot of referrals."
And with all the amenities, "the kids love coming there."
"They sometimes ask to come back," she says. "Usually the parents aren't too keen on that."
Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Sarah Casello-Rees, owner Rapunzel's Lice Boutique