BELFAST — Jessica Hall of Searsport has taken ownership of A Cut Above salon, previously owned by the late Marion Hughes. Hughes was a fixture in the community and her salon is well known, Hall said.

Hughes started working at the salon in the ’70s, when it was located by the Colonial Theatre, Hughes’ daughter, Melissa Wallace, said. Hughes took over the business in the late ’80s or early ’90s, when it was moved down the street to a building across from the Belfast Co-op.

Marion Hughes, previous owner of A Cut Above hair salon. Source: Facebook

In 2015 Hughes started running the salon out of Wallace’s home in Belfast, the daughter said. She cut hair until two weeks before her death July 17, 2021.

A Cut Above’s location on High Street when Marion Hughes owned it in 2012. Courtesy of Jessica Hall

To honor Hughes’ legacy of giving, her family decided to donate the business and all equipment to a recently graduated cosmetologist or someone in cosmetology school, Wallace said. Hughes would routinely participate in or facilitate charitable events where she would use her craft to give back, like providing free haircuts to veterans for a day.

The family put a post on Facebook asking people who they thought was most deserving of the salon and they received many responses, but Hall received the most likes from people, Wallace said.

After her mother’s death last summer, Wallace met Hall when she was still in cosmetology school. From the moment Hall stepped into the room with her family, Wallace said she could feel her mother’s presence. Hall made a shadow box with some of Hughes’ old tools, like her scissors, to give to Hughes’ family.

“I could feel my mom’s presence,” Wallace said. “…I don’t know how to explain it other than I knew she was the right person; I felt my mom’s presence there.”

Hall, the mother of four children aged 12 to 23, decided to chase her passion for cosmetology by going to school for the trade last January, she said. She grew up around beauticians and always enjoyed making other people feel good. She was the mom who would do her daughter’s and her daughter’s friends’ hair for school events.

“I was that mom that kind of did prom makeup and hair and had done a couple of weddings and things of that sort,” she said. “…(During) prom seasons … , my house is always filled with girls doing hair and doing makeup.”

Hall worked jobs outside her passion for many years to support her family, but when her daughter enrolled in cosmetology school she started living vicariously through her, she said.

Her daughter, Makenna Roberts, encouraged her to enroll and for a few months they were in school together. Hall graduated from school Dec. 15 and was then able to start taking her own clients at the salon.

Marion Hughes’ original business sign hangs on the wall at the new location of the salon now owned by Jessica Hall in the Webber Building. Courtesy of Jessica Hall

Before going to cosmetology school, Hall worked as a regional coordinator for G.E.A.R. Parent Network out of Augusta, a program of Crisis and Counseling Centers. Sometimes she would meet people at low points in their lives.

As a beautician, she hopes to meet people during the best times of their lives, she said. She hopes to help them gain confidence while having a good time. She is grateful to Hughes’ family for giving her the salon.

“When you go and you have your hair done, you’re having conversation, you’re getting to know your stylist,” she said. “So for me it’s not just about giving someone a great haircut, it’s ensuring that the experience that they have with me is something that they’re going to remember. That to me is important.”

Three days after graduating, Hall’s first client was Melissa Wallace, who said she had not had her hair cut or dyed for a long time. She thinks Hall takes an approach to styling similar to her mother’s in that they both want to make people feel good about themselves.

“I believe my mom had a part in choosing her,” she said. “Their personalities and their presentation with people is very similar — very caring and loving, and their passion to make other people feel good is very similar,” she said.

The salon is at 134 Waldo Ave. in the Webber Building. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make an appointment, call 505-9292.

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