Primp & Play’s revolutionary kid-friendly spa

Owner reveals how her spa solved a dilemma many working moms face

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

Tara Murphy had a tough decision to make for her family: Relocate from Philadelphia to New York with her marketing job at a children’s television network, or collect severance and find a new one

“I didn’t want to go back into corporate America,” Murphy said. “And I wanted to do something on my own, but I wasn’t sure what that was exactly.”

She focused her energy on a problem she had in common with many other working moms. They all wanted some spa – even “me” – time, but the guilt of leaving their children at home or with daycare didn’t exactly result in a relaxing experience.

“So I thought, why isn’t there a place where kids and parents can coexist and everybody can relax in a tranquil environment?” Murphy said. “I saw in my kids that they had technology overload, and sensory overload, so I questioned why that place didn’t exist.”

Introducing: Primp & Play

In 2015, Murphy opened the doors of Primp & Play, Philadelphia’s first kid-friendly spa. Business boomed, and now, Primp & Play is moving into a new building and is growing even more through franchising. Murphy said it would have all been impossible without her heavy-handed use of technology.

“I never had a dream that I would be owning a family spa,” she said. “But my goal from the start was ensuring that every piece of technology and software that we use could be duplicated and used for multiple locations.”

A tech-focused approach

Murphy and her employees use mobile devices every day for scheduling and sales, among other tasks. The portability and versatility of a mobile workforce allows for everything to be more streamlined, since each employee can access the same information at the same time.

“It’s really great to be able to have people work faster, more efficient and transparent so everyone is on the same page, since not everyone is here all the time,” she said.

It’s especially useful for outside the brick-and-mortar, when Primp & Play shows up for popup events at festivals or spa parties at peoples’ homes. And as for managing finances, Murphy uses an app that gives her an intuitive dashboard and specially curated reports, so she can tweak prices and services as needed.

Murphy can even send payroll straight from the app to her payroll company. This "techy" strategy also helps streamline the kid-friendly side of the business.

Children – in a spa?

While Primp & Play does cater to the “technology overload” some kids experience, Murphy said the tech-forward spa doesn’t nix it from the children’s side altogether. It actually uses technology to lead their activities, but doesn’t leave them sitting in chairs staring at screens. Even Murphy’s own children love coming to the spa.

“Oh my gosh, it’s like their second home,” she said.

The spa seems like it’s become a second home for more than just Murphy’s children. Many other moms bring their kids in each time to both get pedicures or manicures, and even have some fun at one of the many art classes. But while the payoff is extremely positive, Murphy stresses it wasn’t always an easy road to get here. Starting a business takes a lot of perseverance.

Advice for new business owners

“Just do it,” Murphy said. “This is definitely the hardest but also the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.”

Murphy said she came into the business blindly, but that didn’t stop her. The tricks and tools – tech tools – she learned to use along the way is what kept her focused on business growth. And she loves seeing the progress she’s made along the way.

“The way I’ve gotten through it is to really take things day by day,” she said. “I make sure I’m doing one thing every day, otherwise it can get overwhelming. It makes it much more tangible to actually reach your goal.”

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