Emma Dougherty (centre) with Caitlin Dougherty and Rebecca Faulks at Studio 18. Picture: Evan Morgan
Emma Dougherty (centre) with Caitlin Dougherty and Rebecca Faulks at Studio 18. Picture: Evan Morgan

Controversial policy cuts kids out of salon

A controversial "no children" policy has caused a divide among clients at a popular Townsville hair salon.

Studio 18 owner Emma Dougherty has defended her new policy, despite backlash from a number of disgruntled mums.

The Charters Towers Rd based salon notified its customers on social media on November 11 that it would no longer allow children to accompany parents to appointments.

The strict policy also included a $50 cancellation fee if less than 24 hours' notice was given.

"Unfortunately we are no longer able to accommodate children under 16 in the salon unless they have their own hair appointments," the Studio 18 post read.

The announcement sparked a divided response from clients, with some saying they'd take their business elsewhere.

Kim Kay is one of them.

"It's a bit rude because if things happened at the last minute like for example on Tuesday when I had to run my nine-week-old (baby) to emergency because he was sick - I'm going to get charged for looking after my children," she said.

"I will be looking for another hairdresser. I'm new to Townsville and don't have anyone here so I can't palm my children off to go and do something just for myself."

Kate Williams said the policy was discrimination.

"I'm very disappointed that Studio 18 is discriminating against mothers or fathers with children," Ms Williams said.

"A lot of single mums don't have a babysitter to look after their child while getting a haircut. What about the mums whose babies sleep in their prams all the way through, or the 15-year-old who sits quietly on their phone while their mum gets her haircut?"

Ms Dougherty defended the policy and said after 18 months of deliberations it came down to safety concerns.

She said her staff were constantly asking young children not to play with brooms and hair on the floor or run around while staff were using sharp scissors or hot styling equipment.

"As for the bubs, we do a lot of (hair) colouring so there's a lot of bleach in the salon that has strong fumes and my concern is if we're doing highlights and using bleach and mum's holding their bub and some of it drips on them, my insurance isn't going to cover that," she said.

"The older kids might be sitting on the couch but then have their iPad on the loudest they can and it's left to my staff to ask them to turn it down."

Ms Dougherty said she wanted the salon to be a place where parents could come and switch off from everything else.

"I was hoping mums would essentially have forced 'me time'," she said.

"I'm a single mum so I do know it's hard and there are plenty of salons in Townsville which are child friendly but they've made designated play areas that are safe to do so, but we just don't have the space for that here."