By Kathryn Holl
My hair had reached the point where it would not curl if you held an industrial-strength curling iron to it for hours at a time. Not to mention with August approaching, my tresses had seen more sun and sea than they should and I was in dire need of a good cut. As I approached the salon I have to admit I was a bit nervous. Not because of the facade – a gal doesn’t have to worry when she arrives for a style on Madison Avenue – but simply because you tend to develop a very distinctive relationship with your regular stylist. But my trepidation disappeared as I entered the calming and soothing environment of Minardi Salon.
Upon arrival I am shown to a personal changing room where I slip on a robe and prepare for my cut. With my fresh lemon-infused iced tea in hand, I make my way around the top floor and notice the myriad of feature articles written about the salon and its owners. As I gloss over the editorials; Allure, InStyle, Elle and People, just to name a few, I soon begin to realize there is something very unique about this place. Minardi is not run by one owner, but by husband and wife duo, Carmine and Beth Minardi.
As I make my way downstairs, I expect to meet an ultra-posh, super-hip stylist but am pleasantly surprised to meet the very charming, down-to-earth, Carmine Minardi. It is no doubt this man is en vogue, but his confidence and warmth are apparent with his greeting. Carmine’s mantra is education. He started out at his father’s salon in New Jersey and felt he wanted to challenge himself. “If I can’t make it in New York, I’ll never make it,” he said with a nostalgic tone.
At 18, he began to work his way to becoming a master hair cutter. As Special Consultant to Clairol, Carmine also consulted for industry giants as Pantene and Redken – where he was instrumental in the development of several product lines. It was at Clairol where he met future wife-to-be, Beth, as she was the director of education for the brand. They decided to go into business together, working on separate sides of the salon, which still holds true today. Beth concentrated on her expertise as a master colorist while Carmine continued to wow clients with exceptional styles. “It worked for us…I don’t recommend getting into business with your spouse, you need to be professional partners first.” This coming from two gifted masters of hair that have grown their highly successful business of 19 years to 40 staff members attending to 4500 clients and 3000 active clients.
You may wonder why I feel the need to engage you in this heartwarming story of love and success but to truly understand my haircut experience; you need to know where Carmine comes from. After discussing his teenage daughter and condo uptown, he took a long, hard look at my hair. After he researched my hair’s traumatic state at the time (which he told me was not as bad as I thought), he explained to me that women who have horizontal faces like myself need length to their cut while women who have vertical faces can pull off a shorter do. As long as he didn’t suggest the “Nicole Richie,” “Jessica Simpson” or try to talk me into getting “fabulous” extensions, I was game for whatever his creative mind desired.
If my cut was going to be anything like my 15-minute wash, I was ready to put my life into his hands. Many of us look forward to a good wash – it’s the one part of getting a haircut that most resembles a mini-spa treatment. If I was Carmine, I’d market a wash – forget about the cut! Like a good massage or soothing facial, I was sad to see it come to an end.
As he carefully shaped my hair with great ease and grace, he told me about the many different treatments women in New York are asking for. Carmine informed me he’s doing many more body waves these days and encourages women to try his “Critical Condition” treatment that involves a three-step process of total conditioning. Carmine has been doing a lot of semi-blunt, long-layered styles. These days he likes long waves, and chunked out, rock and roll shags. He informed me “wispy is dead and totally straight will never go away” as he proceeded to cut my hair into a “chop-knotting” style that works for finer hair without chunks. This method of cutting involves deep, deliberate cuts of hair that result in a face frame with interesting pieces that change everyday. This type of cut also enhances highlights and other color treatments one may have in their hair.
There is always that moment of suspense when the blow dryer turns off and the stylist hands you the large mirror to check out your new ‘do. However at this point, my anxiety had been left at the door and I was excited to walk out the door with my head held high to show off my sassy new cut.
My Minardi experience was relaxing and fulfilling to say the least. My hair has never looked better – the style is as functional as it is hip. This is exactly what Manhattan is looking for – an unpretentious family-run salon with a chic, contemporary feel.
I’ll cheat on my stylist with Carmine Minardi every 6 to 8 weeks!
29 East 61st Street