Natalie Esack, aged in her 30s, died from her wounds as her attacker fled past startled shoppers.
An hour later her estranged husband Ivan Esack, a former police detective, was arrested on suspicion of her murder.
Part of Ashford High Street in Kent was cordoned after the attack at Esack Hair And Beauty salon.
Mrs Esack opened the business four years ago and had recently separated from her husband, who registered as a football agent after leaving the Kent police force.
It is understood he resigned from the force two or three years ago following a drugs-related incident.
Charles Goodwin, 49, a mortgage broker, who runs a business in an office three doors along from the hairdressers, said: "I've known Natalie for eight years since I arranged a mortgage for her and her husband's first home.
"She's such a nice girl, a really lovely bubbly character. Only just this morning we waved to each other as she went past my shop to open up hers.
"She's got a very good reputation as a hairdresser.
"I don't know anyone who's got a bad word to say about her.
"I heard a scream, a loud scream, this morning. I thought it was just kids messing about.
"It was only when I saw three police cars and an ambulance pull up here that I knew something was wrong.
"The police put a cordon up around the shop and then all the girls who work there came out of the shop. The only person who didn't come out was Natalie.
"It's just so, so sad. I could kill the person who did this to her."
A source, who did not want to be named, said Natalie had been married to her husband for at least eight years.
It is believed the couple did not have any children.
It is understood the police may have recovered a knife from the scene.
Police were called to the scene by the South East Coast Ambulance Service.
Kent Police spokesman confirmed: "A 38-year-old Ashford man was arrested an hour later at an address in the town".
The victim's family have been told of her death.
Ivan Esack is the owner and director of IAE Football Ltd which, the website said, "is an agency representing professional footballers and coaches throughout the United Kingdom".
Crystal Palace striker Wilfred Zaha, who has been linked to a move to Premier League clubs including Manchester United, is pictured on IAE's website.