Anyone who has children will know that dealing with lice is one of those rites of passage that almost every parent will have to deal with. But as with everything that is going non-toxic and natural, so is lice treatment, and two US-based women, Ilene Steinberg and Michele Barrack, have found that it pays to be nit-pickers. Literally.
Both women found themselves in demand after each independently started her own, home-grown lice-removal business in the late 2000s, successfully removing the tiny insects and their eggs, or nits, from the heads of families in their area without the use of harsh chemical treatments.
Lice lifters lift off
The two women eventually met and in 2010 went into business together with Lice Lifters, opening the first treatment centre near Philadelphia in the US. In less than two years, they expanded to a multistate company with 11 franchisees.
“The fact that we’ve grown so quickly shows that there is a need,” says Steinberg, who notes that they launched the business during the recession. In fact, with 12 million cases of head lice in the US every year, one in ten Canadian kids treated per year, and higher prevalence worldwide than the common cold, there’s certainly no shortage of customers.
With children between the ages of three and twelve years old being mostly affected, Lice Lifters works with individuals, schools and camps. To keep things non-toxic, the business uses the LouseBuster, a device resembling a vacuum cleaner that uses heated air rather than chemicals to kill lice and nits through dehydrating its targets.
Lice Lifters technicians then follow the LouseBuster with a thorough comb-out, then finish with a light solution of The Nit Nanny, an oil treatment developed by Steinberg.
Nitty gritty of nit-picking
Lice removal may or may not be a calling, but the business seemed to seek and find Steinberg and Barrack, who both have children. Both experienced problems with lice and saw a need for a knowledgeable treatment service in their communities.
The company says the treatment has a 99,5% success rate and people are prepared to pay for that. Barrack also says the company projects annual revenue of more than $2 million. Does the sound of ka-ching make it seem a bit more tolerable now?
So how much do you pay for daily heebie-jeebies?
A Lice Lifters turnkey franchising fee is $35 000. And how much money can you make ferreting through people’s hair for a living? Well, a head inspection is $25 to $30, a session with the LouseBuster will set you back $175 to $195 for 30 minutes and a 30 minute comb-out, while $25 is charged for every additional 15 minutes.
If the thought of a giant vacuum on your head isn’t appealing, a traditional comb-out will set you back $100. If you discover your children have got visitors out of business hours, get ready to haul out $225 per head.
- Founders: Ilene Steinberg and Michele Barrack
- Established: 2010
- Footprint: 11
- Sessions: $175 to $195 per head
- Contact: www.licelifters.com