I am from the southern part of Italy, Catania, Sicily, but I am really a little bit from everywhere. After the mandatory Italian military service, I left for France. I was 18 and that happened in 1996. I lived 3.5 years in France and then I moved to the United States in September 1999. Throughout my three years in France I learned about French techniques and French coiffeur and I started to take academic courses in England. I moved away from Italy because I needed to learn techniques and visions from other countries. In my field the Italians are considered to be super artistic and crafty with their hands “we are artisans”. It makes a huge impact to be able to visualize and finish something in a proper way. The English have much more structure and precision and they use technical abilities. The French are a combination of both (like the Italians and the English). The French also have a middle eastern influence as well. They know how to deal with different types of hair from a technical point of view but they are also artisans.
After these 3.5 years of experiences, I moved to New York and to Los Angeles and I have been here for 22 years and I currently live in New York.
This dream started in my childhood so I have been doing hair since I was 12 years old.
What do you call yourself?
I can be called a “hairstylist” but I am actually an “Artisan-Artist”, with the vision of an artist and with the technique of an artisan. I am also a hair doctor, consultant, a “Hairapist”.
Anybody can be a hairdresser but I am like a hair specialist. There is always someone that can do better. But do you have many people that can do better than you in every single aspect holistically speaking? The answer is no. I challenge everyone. I can specialize in every single area because of my time and my mindset. The way we approach things here is a little bit different than others. We can cover almost everything from the trichology to morphology and we try to see the psychology and the behavior of the customers in front of us as well as their facial features. Then we analyze everything and cover every single base.
When did you open your first salon and how many salons do you have now?
I have two salons. We have about 15 stations. I would have a maximum of 25 stations.
What made you decide to become a hairstylist? What inspires and motivates you?
Italians by default have big passions: cars, motorcycles, food, and women. My neighbor was a hairdresser and he was always coming home with beautiful women on dates; he had a nice life and a great car. This guy had it all! He was always well dressed. My mom’s best friend was a hairdresser too and she was coming to the house along with other women and this also encouraged me to become a hairdresser as well. I could be around women, make money. I am very ambitious, I don’t do mediocre things. I always do the best and so I liked the whole package. So this is how everything started.
I was a visionary. Italy unfortunately is not very good about dreams and visionaries. Yes it was good to learn the craft and the creativity but not for dreams.
I learned a lot in Italy. I convinced myself to follow my dreams. I went to do an internship after middle school and I did “the gavetta” without being paid. I was doing a lot of side jobs to support myself.
How did covid have an impact on your business and how did you adjust and create a safe environment for your customers?
We are not anti vaccine, not political oriented, we just want what is the best. We had to adapt to the times, I went beyond the guidelines and I did everything and beyond what they were asking. We wanted to make sure that clients had a protocol when they came in. We stayed updated with the guidelines, we measured the temperature, and everyone had to wear a mask, and kept 6 feet distance between the stations. We stopped offering drinks, (we had a full bar, no more coffee as well), so people could learn how to manage the social distance and feel safe and comfortable when inside our salons. We washed our hands and sanitized everything and each station. Each customer stayed at a station and if they moved we sanitized the entire station and re-cleaned everything. We asked people not to stay in the salon if they didn’t have an appointment. We asked people to remove the mask they came in and put on a new mask; that was a little bit hard, but not negotiable. Nothing was negotiable in the guidelines. It was an extra precaution. The goal was to make sure that our staff members and family and customers were all safe.
We tried to cut down the hours or extend them according to the needs to make sure to be safe. We also eliminated magazines.
If people did not want to follow our guidelines, we had to ask them to leave. It only probably happened twice.
Through PPP we were able to keep the business afloat and I kept paying my staff.
We also started to ask our customers how Covid-19 has been impacting their lives and lifestyles, how often do you wash your hair now? How are you doing your hair now? Now they don’t go to the office but maybe they work on Zoom, so there are differences between seeing people in person or on a flat screen. I therefore asked people to bring a screenshot of how they look on Zoom so that we can work on their hair.
We currently maintain these standards and requirements.
What are your dreams and plans for the future?
My dream, my plan for the future is as follows: one part of my dream is to grow the Fabio Scalia brand in the most important cities in the world where we can be and become pioneers and inspiration for young hairdressers who want to pursue this career and make it a treasure. I also want to be able to give a wonderful opportunity to those who for one reason or another perhaps do not believe in themselves or do not believe that they can have a nice and lucrative professional future by doing hair.
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