By Jacquie De Almeida
You could be forgiven if you thought Glama Gal Tween Spa was just a place where its young patrons are pampered. With its menu of dessert-inspired manicures and pedicures and edible chocolate facials, not to mention fluffy robes and comfy slippers, it has all the makings of a glitzy birthday gathering for a girl and her closest friends.
Walk through the doors of any of Glama Gal’s seven locations, however, and you’re bound to get a lesson in confidence, positive thinking, motivation and most of all, friendship. ‘Glama’ isn’t just a hip take on the word, ‘glamour.’ Rather, it stands for ‘Girls Leading and Motivating Altogether.’
The franchise is the brainchild of sisters Laura and Josie Cannone, who opened the doors to their first corporate location in 2008. Inspired by Laura’s spa-themed bridal shower, the business was developed around creating an enjoyable spa experience for tweens; however, it soon evolved into something with a bigger purpose: building self-esteem.
Having been bullied herself from Grades 4 to 8, Laura understands the insecurity, fear and loneliness victims feel. So when one of her young guests was tricked by her tormentor into showing up late for a birthday party, the sisters took the business in a slightly different direction.
“That incident made me realize Glama Gals has to be a place to help girls be confident,” says Laura, adding her background is in sociology, while her sister’s is in teaching. “It can’t just be about makeup and nail polish. We wanted to inspire girls without them even realizing it; we want to teach them to be positive with one another, so they’re not bullying each other.”
The idea of empowerment is everywhere at the spa, even in packaging that carries messages like “Be confident, tween” or “Be positive, tween.” Grabbing hold of one another’s pinkies, guests also recite the Glama Gal oath, a promise to embrace a positive attitude and nurture their friendships.
“We strongly believe that if a child is confident and positive in themselves, they won’t bully others or be bullied themselves. If we can create a spa that provides all these cool services, then we should be able to create a place where being confident is the coolest thing,” she adds.
The firm stance against bullying is the backbone of the franchise system, so much so that inquiries into opening a franchise that revolve around how much money can be made are rejected from the get-go.
“The ideal franchisee is someone who is motivated, is trustworthy and who really believes in the brand and everything it stands for,” Laura says. “We want someone who has researched who we are and what we stand for. They have to be touched by Glama Gals the way we are. We don’t have a magic number of locations we want to open up, but we do have a magic number of girls we want to inspire: we want to inspire all of them.”