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Peek-a-Do, Jill’s salon for kids in Durham!

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check out her salon for kids in Durham, NC – Peek-A-Do!

Children the mane clientele at this salon Child-friendly Peek-a-Do! hair salon caters to the kid in all of us … and they do it with style

Elizabeth Shestak, Correspondent

Noah Triplett sat on his mother’s lap Wednesday morning, tears streaming as he yelped and fussed, squirming away from the woman who kept coming at him with those shiny things that made little hairs flutter around his face.

A few minutes later, the 21-month-old had calmed down and was sporting a dapper look, his thick, dark brown hair parted to the side, still damp from being spritzed down in the momentary mayhem that had just passed.

His mother, Karen Triplett, literally jumped for joy — her toddler had finally gotten his hair cut.

It had been six months since his last (and first) trim, and it was just as bad when his grandfather, a retired barber, had a go at it, but he lived too far away to cut it again. Triplett said her husband just couldn’t handle watching the fits Noah would throw when she tried to cut it herself.

Her last hope was Peek-a-Do!, a kid-friendly salon at 7011 Fayetteville Road. It’s not just for kids-cuts – children are supervised and entertained while their parents get cuts too.

Owner Jill Simpson, a 31-year-old mother of two, opened the boutique — the first of its kind in Durham — in October 2005 with fellow mom Jan Sebway; business has been booming.

Simpson’s original plans did not include owning a business. She wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and earned a liberal arts degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. She loved being a stay-at-home mom, too. But once the idea got rolling, she embraced the creative outlet.

“We can’t do that, we’re just moms!” is what they said to themselves at first. But as the logistics became clearer, “there was that moment of just like why not?” Simpson said. “We know what moms want and we know what kids want, and we’ll figure out the rest.”

The salon offers more than a barber’s chair and a pair of scissors. The walls are decorated in an earthy green, blue, yellow and orange palette, and there are rounded edges on everything in the room. The mirrors look like puddles on the walls, and the receptionist’s desk is an island.

In front of every seat (some are shaped like cars and planes.) there is an LCD screen with a choice of four animated movies playing at all times. Wednesday featured “Dora the Explorer,” “Elmo,” “Thomas the Tank Engine” and “Cars.”

Katherine Hirsh brought her son, Alexander, 5, to Peek-a-Do! to have his hair repaired — he had given himself a haircut a week earlier and it needed some touching up. They all seem to do that to themselves when they turn five, she joked.

Simpson only hires stylists who have at least five years’ experience outside of beauty school.

“You can’t learn to cut hair on a moving target,” she said.

Patience and the kind of personality that makes the children comfortable are also job requirements.

Janice Glass cut Alexander’s hair and said she relies on lots of distractions for the children. Anything that makes them hold their heads still and look down helps, Glass said.

Simpson even sells toys in the salon, making sure they are educational, fun and not apt to drive parents nuts.

“I don’t think toys have to have lights and make sounds to be fun,” Simpson said.

Simpson said they made sure furnishings would be low enough so that parents could visually keep track of their children no matter where they were in the salon.

There is a play area for siblings and friends waiting their turn, and when the children are finished, they get to choose a toy out of the “treasure chest” and also receive a balloon.

Little girls get a “signature twist” where a front piece of their hair is twisted back and tied with a ribbon in the color of their choice.

Simpson won’t allow Duke blue on the premises.

The Colorado native said children’s salons are all the rage in Denver, but there were none in the Triangle.

“It is such a need — this is such a growing area with so many young families and there are just so many children and you know, they need haircuts,” Simpson said.

She met Sebway, who they refer to as the “behind-the-scenes partner,” as first-time mothers in birthing class.

Raising their children together (Simpson’s daughter Lande and Sebway’s son Zack were born just five days apart) brought them very close, and they started coming up with ideas from noticing things that would make the lives of mothers easier.

A pacifier that actually stayed in mouths was one fledgling concept, but it never moved beyond speculation. When their children were the age where they needed haircuts, it occurred to Simpson that there was no place that specialized in children’s cuts.

It took two years, but after doing tons of research, hiring an ad agency for six months and an architecture firm to make her vision of a stimulating but not Chuck E. Cheese-esque environment, Peek-a-Do! opened and was a hit from the start.

Basic haircuts are more expensive than in most salons — Peek-a-Do! prices start at $19, $22 for a wash and cut, and $9 for a bang/over the ear trim. They even offer manicures, which start at $15. Children’s haircuts run around $12 at other places.

But Simpson strives to make the boutique a positive experience for children and parents alike, and she loves it when the children walk in the door crying from fear, and leave crying because they don’t want to leave.

Published: Jan 27, 2007 The Durham News