Getting tots’ hair trimmed is no niggling chore at Sharkey’s
- Credit: Archant
Anyone who has tried to cajole a reluctant toddler into having their first hair cut – while a complete stranger bears down on them with sharp scissors – will appreciate a colourful child-friendly salon like Sharkey’s.
My two-year-old hates even having her locks brushed, and her fine blonde hair had matted into “bed head” tangles when we walked rather shamefacedly through the door of Susan Mahmood’s Abbey Road salon.
I was greeted by the saintly patience of stylist Aliana, who reassured me the previous day she’d taken an hour to untangle a child’s dreadlocks and had to cut another young client’s’ hair while he was manically running around the shop.
Sharkey’s – an American franchise – is decked out in bright colours with a trio of cars on adjustable podiums for younger clients to sit in while watching their favourite programmes on wall-mounted screens.
Once installed in the Barbie jeep, fiddling with the radio buttons, revving the wheels, and watching Peppa Pig, Eilis was too busy to notice the dreaded comb or scissors.
“There isn’t anything like this around north London,” says Mahmood, a St John’s Wood-based former banker, who opened the salon a month ago.
“Because I am local I really wanted to find the right location in the area. We have the cars for the little ones, the glamour station for the older girls and cool cuts where boys can play the Xbox or PS3 while having their hair cut.
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“We can plait, curl or crimp, whatever they want. It’s primarily for children aged 0 to 14 but all the stylists are fully trained so mums can get a wash, cut and blowdry as well, and dads get a 25 per cent discount if they bring the kids along for a cut.”
Sharkey’s offers a complementary manicure and nail polish for little girls, a sparkly hair clip, and for a first cut like ours, a photo, certificate and lock of hair in a little bag.
While Eilis needed reassurance to cope with the unfamiliar setting, and a bit of hand holding to get her through the blow-dry, I don’t think we’d have achieved it without Sharkey’s unique distractions – and my boys are now begging to have their next cut there.
“Lots of parents find it stressful taking their children to the hairdressers because they won’t stay in the chair or hold their heads still,” says Mahmood, whose two teenage children attend The American School.
“We’ve tried to create somewhere a child feels comfortable, to turn what can be a bit of a chore into something they will find fun and even look forward to. Our stylists have to love children and love their job. They have to be extremely patient to cope with the most challenging cases. The other day we had two little boys having their first cuts. They were screaming and crying, but we took the time to get it done and their mum was so relieved.”
Downstairs, Mahmood has a fabulous party room and is offering a package of girl’s pampering and glamour parties, with make-up, hairdos, and nail varnish, before dressing up as princesses and enjoying a fashion show.
“Girls these days are eight going on 17 and have so much awareness because of TV shows like the X Factor. We don’t want them to look older than their age, so the make-up is minimal and appropriate and the atmosphere is more like dressing up in funky sunglasses and pretty outfits.”
Coming soon will also be boys’ parties where they compete at Wii games and have their hair gelled,and the room is also available to hire at £35 an hour for yoga sessions, book clubs or mums groups.
n Fun chairs – boys and girls 0 to 5 years wash, cut and dry £19.95. Cut only £17.95. Fringe only £10. Cool cuts station – boys age 6 and above. Wash, cut and dry £20.95. Cut only £18.95. Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids is at 77, Abbey Road, NW8. For bookings, see firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7625 2680.