Eva Sutherland, left, and her daughter, Kayla Sutherland.

Eva Sutherland, left, and her daughter, Kayla Sutherland.

Ahead of Hair Health and Beauty Retreat has proven it’s ahead of the crowd during the worldwide health pandemic.

While public health restrictions surrounding COVID-19 closed hair salons and cosmetology services right away, the downtown Pictou business continued to be on the cutting edge with the gift ware side of its business.

“We created an online store about a week and a half or two weeks into being shut down,” explains Kayla Sutherland whose mother, Eva Sutherland, owns Ahead of Hair.

Ahead of Hair has grown to be more than a hair salon in the 34 years it has been operating. In addition to the hair, esthetics, massage therapy and tanning services provided, it has expanded the hair care, body care and skin care products as well as clothing and accessories items in the shop to the point that they opened a new boutique store and sister business — Seaside Treasure Trove — within the past three years across the street. Seaside Treasure Trove offers gift ware, clothing and more and is co-owned by the mother-daughter entrepreneurs.

Now, Ahead of Hair and Seaside Treasure Trove have cornered the market to become a one-stop destination: pamper yourself with hair, nail and spa treatments then pop across the street to shop a wide variety of clothing, accessories and gift ware.

“The online store sold items for both spots — Seaside Treasure Trove and Ahead of Hair. And that whole time we were doing curbside pickup or doorstep delivery,” Sutherland say.

During the pandemic, Sutherland says the businesses were happy to assemble gift baskets filled with products for customers. “And then we just delivered them to their doorstep — anywhere in Pictou County. And we also mailed parcels to people who were further.”

This generated a lot of positive vibes in the community, Sutherland notes.

“We heard a lot of great feedback; people were so appreciative because everyone’s comfort levels are different with these big changes. People were just thrilled to be able to still support local and be able to get something — whether it was for someone else or themselves — and they didn’t have to go out to do it … they would jump online and for those who weren’t that tech savvy they would just call and we would talk over the phone to get them what they needed.”

It is this dedication to providing customer service and ability to adapt quickly to the changing world times that prompted local resident Susan MacConnell to nominate Ahead of Hair for Advocate Media Inc.’s Shine On campaign.

MacConnell writes: “Ahead of Hair adapted quickly to the pandemic and continued to serve their community and customers. We were able to pick up birthday gifts, Easter treats, and Mother’s Day gifts for friends and family. Doorstep delivery and service with a smile! They put much of their selection online and provided curbside pickup as well as delivery to your house. They are helpful, friendly and a joy to shop with. Truly one of the most innovative and clever local businesses in Pictou County.”

Sutherland is proud to be nominated. “It’s amazing and really touching how many people made the choice to support local and support our business. And not just making purchases — people were just sending us messages saying we’re thinking about you at this time, that just meant so much. And there were many people who were twice as interactive on social media making sure to share our posts and like our posts because that’s a big help to any business, too.”

Gratitude is what Sutherland feels for her customers.

“We’re really blessed to be in this community. We’re always appreciative of what a great community we have and how people support us… when something like happens and you have to slow down, you just really appreciate where you come from and where our businesses are located. People here are just so kind and thoughtful to us.”

The businesses have now re-opened, with restrictions being eased somewhat. People can now shop Seaside Treasure Trove from Wednesday to Saturday, although there are new protocols for doing so. In the evenings as well as Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays private appointments can be booked so people can shop at their own comfort level. Private shopping only is currently available at Ahead of Hair.

Advocate Media’s Shine On campaign is aimed shining a light on outstanding businesses in Pictou County that are making a difference in their communities during these trying times. The businesses have a chance at being highlighted in the company’s newspapers, as well as winning $3,000 worth of free advertising for when the economy picks up.

Anyone wanting to nominate a business in the Shine On campaign can do so by connecting with the Shine On link on our website, www.pictouadvocate.com, or dropping a handwritten nomination with the business’s name, as well as your name, email address, phone number and reason for the nomination into our office at 21 George St., Pictou. You can also nominate your own business.


Jackie Jardine has been in the newspaper industry for more than 30 years and has been editor at The Advocate for more than a decade. Human interest stories that affect people are what she most enjoys writing about. She is a Silver Quill Award recipient.