Just a month after the passing of Hair Expectations owner Jen Hastings, her staff comes together to make her dream come true
By Jeff Morris, Manotick Messenger
It was an emotional day for the staff of Hair Expectations in Richmond Tuesday.
The award-winning salon opened in its new location at 6054 Perth Street, the former location of the Village Shoppe. The move from their previous location on McBean Street was a difficult one for the staff. While the business was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing to move to their new location, the salon’s owner, Jen Hastings, passed away after a relapse of cancer.
“It was news none of us were prepared for or expecting to hear,” said Vange Duncan, a provincial award-winning stylist at Hair Expectations. “Jen was having back pains and it turned out to be cancer in her bones.”
Hastings had already taken on breast cancer and won that battle. But on May 16, about a week after learning she was in for another fight with cancer, Hastings had passed away. Her diagnosis and death was a shock to her husband, John, their two teenage daughters, and those close to her. For the staff at Hair Expectations, the news was devastating.
“Opening at this location was Jen’s vision and her dream,” Duncan said. “We came together as a staff and we were determined to make her dream come true. We had to move forward and make her vision a reality.”
The move was made during the COVID-19 closures. Hastings, along with her husband and two daughters, did most of the move from the McBean Street location to the new Perth Street location.
Hastings’ vision for the new location included more health and wellness elements than what the salon had to offer on McBean Street. She was planning on having a yoga studio upstairs, as teaching yoga was one her genuine passions. Carrying out that dream was something that Duncan was inspired to take on herself. Sadie Ottawa, the studio where Hastings learned to teach yoga, established the Butterfly Spirit Scholarship in her honour. Duncan applied for the scholarship and won it.
“When I heard about the scholarship, I thought ‘I have to do this,’ I have always been interested in it,” Duncan said. “I was going to do this whether I got the scholarship or not. It’s on my path now.”
With only 10 people allowed in the building at one time, it will be a while before things like yoga classes will be permitted at Hair Expectations.
“Everything will be about body, mind and spirit,” Duncan said. “One thing we are trying to do is to continue with blood analysis. It helped a lot of people figure out things like food allergies and intolerances. It was all about wellness of the body, mind and spirit.”
Duncan said that many people reached out to Hastings’ family to tell John about the impact Jen had on them.
“John told me that people have been messaging him to let him know how much of an impact Jen had on their lives,” Duncan said. “They are telling him how Jen reached out to them when they were fighting cancer or going through another struggle. They are reaching out because Jen had such an impact on their lives.”
As Hair Expectations opens moving forward, one of the biggest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been in the wedding business. Many of the provincial awards the salon has won has been because of their styling work with brides and wedding parties.
“Most of the weddings we had booked have been moved to 2021,” Duncan said. “Some of the smaller weddings have been moved to the fall, but most have been postponed for a year.”
On Monday, the staff came together at the new Perth Street location to prepare for the opening. It was an emotional time for everyone.
“Most of us have not seen each other since March, when everything shut down because of the pandemic,” Duncan said. “We talked about how we wanted to move forward and make her dream come true.”
The staff bought a pink magnolia tree and gave it to Hastings’ family as a gift. The tree will go in the family’s yard, and it will bloom every May.
“There are so many emotions,” said Duncan. “We keep expecting to hear Jen giggling and for her to come walking around the corner. She was our leader. She made us part of her family. We want to use the new location and what we do there to celebrate her.”
While Hastings was loved by her staff and the Hair Expectations customers, she was also a person of community. She supported many programs for cancer research, and she was a sponsor of many organizations in the community, including the Richmond Curling Club.
Because Hastings was so well-known and loved in the community, Duncan is expecting a lot of emotional moments when their regular customers come in for the first time.
“There will be a lot of tears, a lot of laughter, and a lot of tough conversations,” Duncan said. “Even as we were getting ready, there were a lot of little things that reminded us of her. There are things like coming across her coffee mug, or her favourite colour of nail polish that are little reminders of her.”
Duncan said that one of the things that will remind the staff and Hastings’ friends of her will be seeing butterflies.
“Butterflies were special to her,” Duncan said. “I remember one time she had a hot bath and the hot water left a mark shaped like a butterfly on her. She showed it to us and it was there for months. And then I have been hearing people in the last couple weeks tell us about how when they were thinking about her they saw butterflies. When we see butterflies at our new location, it will always make us think of Jen.
“Having us all come back together to open up on Perth Street has been a shot in the arm for all of us,” Duncan added. “We are coming back together for Jen’s dream. It’s surreal right now, but everything in this place will remind us of her and how we want to make her dream come true.”