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Ashley Hannington’s Scarlet Ink Studio offers professional child-friendly ear piercing for Greater Moncton kids
“Oh, it smells good!”
That was my daughter’s first comment as we entered Scarlet Ink Studio in Riverview. Tucked alongside restaurants, banks, and pet shops at 121 Pine Glen Road, the studio shares a storefront with Gemstoned Jewelry & Gifts, giving the space a relaxed, inviting vibe you might not associate with a typical tattoo & piercing shop. That feeling is exactly what Ashley Hannington wants her clients – young and young-at-heart – to feel.
“I’m trying to shake it up, but in a zen way,” shares the petit piercer with the big personality. “I want everyone to feel comfortable. My room is a relaxing avocado green. I have salt lamps, essential oils. I play relaxing music. It’s a spa-centering experience that makes the piercing go easy-peasy.”
It’s not surprising to learn this professional piecer is also a trained early childhood educator. While she doesn’t work exclusively with children, she does specialize in ear piercing for youth. Just ask in any of the ‘mom groups’ on social media where to get a child’s ears pierced in Greater Moncton and you’ll quickly see Ashley’s name shared again and again. Once you step into her studio, you understand why.
Ashley speaks directly to the children in her room, as well as to their adults, in a way that builds trust and understanding. She works hard to ensure everyone is comfortable and the experience is positive. It’s obvious her approach is built on knowledge and compassion.
A LIFE LONG PASSION
“In my old school books from Grade 4, Grade 5 where it asks what I want to be when I grow up, I wrote ‘ear piercer’,” says Ashley. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Like most pre-2000 babies, Ashley’s first experience with ear piercing was with a gun. She remembers sitting in a chair at the hair salon, knowing someone was coming towards her ears. “I started wiggling them,” she says. “I wasn’t ready!”
“It’s a traumatic experience, for your ears and for you,” she explains. Despite that trepidation towards the piercing gun, Ashley remained in love with body modification. By the time she was in her 20s, she was working in a chain store, using that same approach. But she knew this wasn’t the experience she wanted to provide young people entering the world of piercing.
“I’ve created a relaxing environment, more like a spa experience than a traditional tattoo parlour,” says Ashley, who has been a professional piercer now for nearly seven years.
PIERCING NEEDLE VS GUN
Why would you choose a tattoo studio over a jewelry store for a child’s ear piercing?
“It’s safer, more sterile,” says Ashley. Even with the best cleaning techniques, a multi-use instrument is not as sanitary as the single-use needles and steel equipment Ashley uses with her clients. Then there’s the physical side of things.
Piercing needles are hollow, creating a tiny cavity into which the stud is placed. “It’s not shoving a blunt object through your cartilage,” explains Ashley, referencing how a piercing gun works.
This means the healing process is much different. The impact on your body is less with a needle piercing, and the earring sits more comfortably because the back isn’t pushed on with the force of the gun.
Ashely also points out the difference in approach to aftercare.
“We used to be told to turn our earrings, right?” she shares. “But that just keeps opening the wound again and again, and the more we touch the new hole in our ears, the more chance for infection.”
She tells everyone to let a new piercing heal for about two months before changing it out.
Extra time is a theme with Ashley. She also makes sure you have plenty of opportunity to feel comfortable before the piercing process begins.
“I book extra time on my schedule for kids’ piercings,” explains Ashley. “I don’t want us to feel rushed.”
“Plus you’re not sitting in a window at the mall with everyone watching.”
A child’s ear piercing session at Scarlet Ink costs $105 plus tax, which includes the earrings.
“The kids get to pick out which colour stones for their studs,” says Ashley.
You also pay for access to Ashley for any after-care questions or emergencies.
“If you run into a problem at 2am trying to put a piercing back in, I’m going to be there to help you through it and book you for an appointment.”
Ashley generally doesn’t pierce children under the age of five.
“What’s important to me is that they ask for it,” she says. “It’s all about consent for me.”
There are some physical considerations, too. “Our ear lobes and noses keep growing” says Ashley. “It helps to have a little extra ear lobe to work with. I’m a stickler for perfection in my piercing. If one of my kids came back with lopsided piercings in 10 years, that would be a sad day for me.”
Ashley also explains that having the child understand the care process is important.
“They can be responsible for their piercing, too.”
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
There is no doubt that Ashley loves her work, and sees it as much more than a job.
“It’s a dream come true,” she admits, calling it a “natural evolution” to combine her lifelong love of piercing with her early childhood training to bring safe, empowering experiences to youth wanting to have their ears pierced.
She’s had a lot of referrals from clients, but no repeat customers just yet.
“The first time one of my wee ones return for a nose piercing, I’ll be ‘Yeah, let’s do this!” she shares with an excited laugh. “That will be a super cool milestone.”
WHERE TO FIND ASHLEY
Scarlet Ink Studio is located at 121 Pine Glen Road in Riverview, sharing a storefront with Gemstoned Jewlery & Gifts. We highly recommend popping in to say hello & to experience the vibe for yourself.
“It’s a beautiful store, filled with homemade candles and stone jewelry,” describes Ashley. “Everyone has their own room and has created their own little ecosystem. When you walk it smells inviting. It’s not hard core, loud music playing.”
You can also follow Ashley & the studio on Facebook and Instagram.
Scarlet Ink Tattoo & Piercing
121 Pine Glen Rd
Riverview, New Brunswick
Monday – Thursday: 11am – 6pm; open till 8pm on Fridays
Ashley is a professional piercer, with training certificates in Bloodborne Pathogen Infection Prevention & Control, CPR, First Aid, and Early Childhood Education.
PS: Special thanks to Jo & her daughter for letting us tag along on their appointment! It was wonderful to see Ashley’s work in person & to have such an incredible model for these photos!!