MIDDLETON, NS - When Jocelyn Beard opened her salon and day spa 20 years ago, she didn’t really have to try very hard for atmosphere – the grand old Bentley house on Main Street Middleton had it in spades.
Add some era-appropriate furniture and an old barber’s chair and it just felt like home for Jocelyn and her staff at the local landmark Victorian house when she opened it two decades ago.
On Feb. 16 she celebrated that business milestone for Hairitage House Aveda Concept Salon and Day Spa. Jocelyn was emotional – flooded by memories of people, faces, friendships.
They were decorated for the 20-year anniversary and there was a cake ready to be cut and shared. Staff attended to customers. They were offering complementary makeup touchups, hand and arm massages. Later in the day Andrea Hill-Lehr read from her book about Nova Scotia’s Heritage Day person for 2018 – Middleton girl Mona Parsons who became a hero during the Second World War as she saved allied airmen in Nazi-occupied Holland. As a young girl Parsons lived just down the street.
Jocelyn remembers back when it was just an idea.
“I worked for 17 years all by myself over in Nictaux. I had a dream,” she said. “I have a very supportive husband who encouraged me. I thought it would be good to have a salon in Middleton.”
There were a couple of houses they looked at that were big enough for what she wanted to do, but those fell through.
But it seemed the house at 189 Main Street was just waiting for her.
“It’s a very unique house. It was built in 1899 by Mr. Bentley,” she said. “It was a house that I’d drive by as a young girl and always wondered what it would be like inside.”
Indeed people still slow down when they drive by just to look at the grand old home.
“This one came up and we put our name in on it,” she said, recalling also that they still hadn’t sold their farm. “It took over two years. So basically we decided to do the big jump -- to rent out the other property and move in. Within a month of everything the house sold – it was like it was meant to be.”
“I love history and the house was very grand,” Jocelyn said. “I wanted to have a full-service salon so I needed space to do that in. It was two apartments when we bought it. We renovated it back to the way it was in the beginning.”
They have two treatment rooms in the back of the house and a massage therapist works out of a room upstairs.
“We use the kitchen as our break room,” she said. “It’s a very family atmosphere.”
And people love it. She could have gone glitz and glamor but wisely she kept it real like the old wood of the house.
“Everybody walks in and they’re like ‘oh, did the antiques come with the house?’ but no, I’ve always collected antiques over the years, and buying things in the hopes that this was going to happen some day.”
The name, Hairitage House, is an obvious play on words but a statement as well – about being real, genuine, and authentic. And in keeping with the house.
Hairitage House subscribes to an environmentally friendly concept. And while that may sound like a contradiction in an industry fill with artificial scents and products, the use only what’s real in nature. That’s where ‘Aveda’ comes in.
“Aveda means ‘all life’ – a tradition from India,” Jocelyn said. “It’s all natural. We use a lot of essential oils. Pure plant flower essences. Derived organically whenever possible, and sustainable.”
Because they’re not artificial or simulated, most people are not allergic to Aveda products.
Hairitage House also has a wig program upstairs in the Bentley Room.
“Anybody who can’t afford a wig I lend them to them,” Jocelyn said. And if they have nothing that fits, they’ll get something that works.
“I feel that when they’re going through cancer that should be the least of their worries,” she explained.
“I used to have a client who would fly in from Philadelphia and she would get her hair done,” said Jocelyn. “Generally, I would say, we have a lot who come from the Digby/Annapolis area -- but they come from all over. And it’s mostly been word of mouth. I’ve never done a whole lot of advertising.”
When you go to Hairitage House, you don’t just get a hair cut.
“It’s definitely an experience. I have a client who started with us 20 years ago and she comes every week,” she said. “Obviously you get attached to those people. Having your hair done is an intimate experience. You get to know the person on a different level and they almost become like family or a friend.”
They do proms and weddings, those special days in the lives of others. They become part of that.
“It’s always great to be a part of somebody’s life,” she said. “I had a lady in yesterday and I met her at our grand opening 20 years ago. She’s had five sons that all got married and I’ve been a part of all of that. And I’ve gone to lots of weddings too. You do become a part of their lives.”
It doesn’t feel like it’s been 20 years.
“ I love what I do and I can’t think that I would want to do anything else,” she said. “It’s been a great journey. I’ve had really good staff and they’ve helped with the journey. I can still see myself being here in another 20.”