Nadine Sparks is the owner of Unity Wigs & Hair Services on Queen Street in downtown Dartmouth. She’s one of the newest members of the Board of Directors for the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, joining in October 2020.
Nadine says offering hair services in Dartmouth has been her lifelong dream. She is from the community of Lake Loon/Cherrybrook but was raised in Dartmouth North, she recalls a joyful upbringing, surrounded by family and friends. As she reflects on her experiences growing up, she says as a woman of color, her hair is an important part of her identity and culture. Nadine says it was an ongoing source of frustration that she was not able to find salons or shops that provided services or the products for managing Black hair.
Not one to give up easily, Nadine took matters into her own hands. She would frequently take trips to Toronto, where there is a large multi-cultural population. Nadine would purchase haircare products, and bring them back to Nova Scotia to supply her family and friends. Nadine soon realized there was a steady demand for hair care products in Nova Scotia.
“Making space for hair products and education in my community has been a lifelong journey. It’s always been an aspiration to own my own salon.”
This is Nadine’s second beauty business. She owned a beauty supply store on Wyse Road until 2008. Nadine once again turned her dream into reality in 2019, when she opened Unity Wigs and Hair Services in downtown Dartmouth. She says the response so far has been wonderful. As word spreads, she continues to widen her community of clients from Dartmouth and Halifax, and beyond.
“I have people who come in from other parts of the province, in fact, this afternoon I’m expecting a regular client from New Glasgow. People reach out to me from all across Atlantic Canada.”
Nadine goes the extra mile to make her clients feel welcome at her shop. She offers transportation services to clients who need them for a nominal fee on certain days of the week. The staff at Unity are knowledgeable in all aspects of haircare from cuts and colors, to braids, hair extensions and wigs.
“We have a private wig room in the salon. Anyone is welcome to make an appointment to try on wigs safely. It’s my goal to make wigs affordable and accessible for people.”
Nadine reflects on her own experience growing up often when she thinks about the mission of her business. She strives to stock the right products, along with proper instruction on how to use them. This goes for both customers and staff.
“Education is a beautiful thing, what we do here is teach our clients how to care for their hair properly. We teach parents how to manage their children’s hair. We also welcome women and men who are natural-born stylists to learn how to care for all types of hair. We provide a place for them to practice, learn and grow.”
In the spirit of education, Nadine says she joined the Board of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission to learn more about the community and the people in it. In doing so, she hopes people will learn more about her and her business.
“The name says it all: Unity! Unity Wigs and Hair Services. Our services and products are inclusive. We love community and I want everyone to feel welcome here. It is great working with so many different types of people, at every age and stage of life.”
Photo credit: James Arthur MacLean Photography