DARTMOUTH - The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission* (DDBC) is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2020 Gloria Fisher Business Person of the Year Award: Samantha Dixon Slawter, owner of Styles by SD.  Samantha has more than 35 years of experience in business industry and has been continually recognized by peers in the industry as a leader and supporter of many businesses in Dartmouth and throughout Nova Scotia.  Samantha has dedicated her life to training salon owners how to properly care for Black Hair, and to educating the wider community about the cultural significance of Black hair and beauty in Nova Scotia.   


The Gloria Fisher Business Person of the Year Award is given to a downtown Dartmouth business person who demonstrates an excellent level of business standards and ethics, plus leadership, creativity, vision and entrepreneurial spirit.  The winner also shows concern and provides support for fellow members of the business community and the people in our neighbourhood.  Moreover, they foster awareness and promote Downtown Dartmouth whenever and wherever possible.

This year’s winner, Samantha Dixon Slawter demonstrates every aspect of this award in spades. Samantha has been in business since 1992 and has served clients at 162 Portland Street for more than a decade.  She finished a degree in International Development at Dalhousie University before opening the business.   Samantha is the first African Nova Scotian to receive Red Seal certification as a hairstylist from the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. 


From day one, Samantha has successfully utilized her business as a platform to support and educate others. She created a beauty course called Cultural Fusion/Cross-cultural Beauty designed to celebrate and educate stylists and the public on Black hair and beauty. She founded the Crown of Beauty Institute, which will be running a three-phase program entitled Black Beauty Culture Hair Innovator.  This course educates about the history of black hair and beauty and how to properly maintain, treat and style African-Nova Scotian hair.  Based on growing demand, she has applied to the province to open a private career college with a focus on Black and textured hair.

Community education is also important to Samantha.  She is a founding member of the Black Beauty Culture Association. This year, she hosted a series of free lectures throughout HRM through Halifax Public Libraries: The Hair-Story of Nova Scotia – What’s your hair-story?  And in August, by Zoom, she hosted Black Hair Matters to teach the public about the history of Black Hair in Nova Scotia. 

 Samantha says she is passionate about educating as many people as possible, "Few people understand how deep and rich the story of Black Hair truly is in our province. It includes Viola Desmond but also includes lesser-known names like Lena Blanche Halfkenny Lucas, who was a legend in Amherst and owned a salon around 1905 and made her own wigs.”

 Samantha’s passion for education is repeatedly recognized by her peers in the industry.  At the Black Hair-etage Expo Awards, Styles by SD was the recipient of the Black Beauty Culture Association’s Beauty of the Community Consciousness Award two years in a row.  Samantha also received the Viola Desmond Crown of Beauty Award 2020 - Community Choice.  Moreover, Styles by SD sponsors the Best Beautiful New Business Award every year at the Black Hair-itage Expo Awards.   The 2019 recipient was fellow downtown Dartmouth salon owner Nadine Sparks of Unity Wigs and Hair Services.  

 The winner of the Gloria Fisher Business Person of the Year was selected by a jury.  The list of nominees was generated by members of the community. A socially-distant awards ceremony was held this week in front of Samantha's shop.


“We were moved by the quality of nominations for the inaugural Gloria Fisher Award, and our selection committee had a difficult task.   It is heartwarming to know so many people in our community appreciate the dedication of downtown Dartmouth’s business owners,” says Tim Rissesco, executive director, DDBC.


Gloria Fisher opened Fisher’s Stationery on Portland Street in 1959. She kept running the business successfully until her retirement in 2014 at the age of 93.   Customers remember Gloria fondly as a kind, hard-working shop owner who went the extra mile for her customers and greeted everyone she knew by name.  Fisher’s son Eric and grandson Sean were in attendance of this year’s ceremony.

“My mother would have been so proud to know that she inspired this award.  She loved Dartmouth, she loved the people in her community.  All she ever wanted was to see downtown Dartmouth thrive again,” says Eric Fisher, who worked alongside his mother in the shop from the time he was seven years old.

For more information and/or interview requests, please contact:

Tim Rissesco, Executive Director

Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission

902-430-8236 (Cell) 902-466-2997 (Office)

 *Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission is a business improvement district with the mission to champion the vitality of downtown Dartmouth with efforts: that enhance the capabilities of our member businesses; advocate for the betterment of the district; create a sense of place; and market the district.


  • Posted by Debbie Power Burke on

    Gloria Fisher was my Father’s Aunt. She was as kind and a wonderful person. It is so good to see her name on an award. Portland Street is not the busy place it was when I grew up. We spent time at the Mayfair Theater and the Candy Bowl for treats for the movie. Hopefully it will return to the busy hub of town it once was.

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