Ever since she was a little girl, Brittany Viator wanted to be a hairdresser. 

As the years passed and the Gloucester resident set out to start what would be a 20-year career in salons, her mother had an idea. 

“Brittany, if you ever own your own hair salon you should name it ‘A Cut Above’ because it will be the first in the yellow pages,” Viator reminisced of her late-mother’s advice. 

And as of last week, A Cut Above has set up shop at 31 Whistlestop Mall in Rockport and is open for cuts, colors, and everything in between. 

After leaving their last salon earlier this year, Viator and friend Rachel Cawley of Essex made a promise that they would stick together wherever the coastal breeze would take them. 

“We both were out of jobs and we said let’s stick together wherever we go,” Viator explained. “Even if it is renting a chair somewhere.”

The two Cape Ann residents then began talking with former receptionist Betty Landry of Rockport and realized that they could do so much more than rent a chair. 

A client mentioned to Cawley that property had opened up in Rockport and the three began brainstorming on ways to open their own hair salon. 

“Within a day, we went and looked at it and we said let’s do it,” Viator said. “The three of us created an LLC (limited liability cooperation) and we’re making it happen.”

Their salon is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursdays from 2 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

A time for everything

The three women chose a difficult time to open a business as small businesses across the Commonwealth are struggling due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to a poll produced by The MassINC Polling Group, 44% of small businesses were down 50% or more in gross business revenue in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. 

Of those participating in the poll, 26% estimated that they would see their gross business revenue go down 50% or more in the second half of 2020 compared with the second half of 2019. 

Hair salons were not void of these struggles as stay-at-home orders meant no clients for a good portion of the spring. 

But as salons reopen in accordance with the state’s reopening plan, things could change. People are looking for a proper trim (i.e. not done by a 10-year-old sibling or mother) as employers are beginning to ask their employees to return to the office, Zoom attire is becoming more professional, and children go back to to school.

Amidst the everchanging society, the three partners of A Cut Above have found the new challenge to be exciting and are hopeful for a bright future. 

“Everything has been falling into place so perfectly,” Viator said. “During a pandemic, it was kind of nutty to do all of this but we said let’s bring some good out of this.”

Their journey has not been short of challenges, Viator explained, as she said the hardest thing was getting an inspection from the state as everyone was working remotely because of the pandemic. 

“That was the trickiest,” she said. 

While their timing was unique, their priorities with the new business are timeless. 

“It is just being able to have a life outside of having your career,” Landry said, explaining that she has grandchildren and both Cawley and Viator are mothers of young children. “Our families and our family life is very important to us.”

Among the dryers and combs, a sign hangs on the wall of their new business: She creates the life she loves.

And that, said Landry, is the mantra they stand by. 

“It is about us being able to work and feel free to have our time with our families,” Landry said. 

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or [email protected]

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