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Milk, Cookies & Pedicures: From Booster Seats to Spa Chairs

Business

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

  1. What app do you most use?

Jataon: Facebook.

Teychenne: Instagram.

  1. 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.

  1. What product do you wish you had invented?

J: The smart phone…why didn’t I think of that?

T: Facebook.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.