Salon Fiorella Still Cutting In During Covid
“I was always passionate about everything beauty.”
Declares master stylist Fiorella Nocita, co-owner of the affordably chic salon and spa proudly bearing her musical forename. The born-and-bred Ottawan from immigrant Italian stock comes to her fervor honestly: her mother was a hairdresser who worked out of the family home (while, impressively, raising Fiorella and her two sisters). Now, her daughter has a place of her own, a magnet for those looking to make “first impressions with impact” via curated haircuts, innovative colouring, and the latest make-up trends.
Since its debut in 2019, Salon Fiorella, with its hip location, palpable energy, and die-hard devotion to customer-driven reinvention, has been attracting both up-and-coming stylists and a loyal and growing clientele plus, its surviving Covid, not easy for a business predicated on physical proximity.
Recently, we caught up with the Fiorella behind Salon Fiorella…
What prompted you to open your own salon?
When I was in my last week of hair school, a co-student asked me what my plans were. I responded that I wanted to work in a reputable place and perhaps have my own salon someday. Being a daughter of parents who worked for themselves, it seemed to be the natural thing to say…but honestly, I am not sure if that’s how I really felt at the time.
So in the meantime…?
I worked at a very busy salon in Downtown Ottawa. I traveled to many places, growing and learning through some of the world-leading companies and stylists in the industry, in L.A., NYC, Toronto, Miami, Italy, and London. In 2012, I bought into the salon I was working at and in 2019, with my business partner Elias Hourani (along with a lot of emotional support from my husband and family), we decided to rebrand as Salon Fiorella.
Up-and-coming stylists are just as attracted to your salon as customers. Why is that?
I have been in this industry for twenty-four years and counting and I have learned a lot! When we hire fresh talent out of school, I always tell them this: “Everything you learned in school is a good introduction but your learning starts now…” Becoming a master stylist entails more than learning to cut and colour hair. It takes ten years in any career path to become an expert at what you do. For the first two years, you are doing a lot of shadowing; at five years, you can perform with total confidence; by year ten, there’s no stopping you. When you feel it truly becomes your craft, that’s when the fun begins.
Also, anyone in this industry will tell you that it’s not just about cutting hair; it’s how you make people feel. The most important skill you master is building relationships. If you’ve ever visited Salon Fiorella, you would feel this exact energy.
Though the business is growing, some consider you the best-kept secret in the city.
What makes Salon Fiorella unique is that it’s unassuming. We’re located on the second floor of 90 George Street in the heart of the Byward Market. From the outside, it’s hard to see what it’s like—but when you enter, you walk into a luxurious space and are quickly greeted by our friendly front reception, who make you feel right at home.
Talk about the services you offer beyond cutting and styling.
Nearby our reception area, we have our Lola Boutique, a one-stop-shop for all things beauty and fashion for both men and women. Besides picking up fabulous Davines hair products and styling tools, we also have an array of unique personal care pieces: silk pillowcases, hair accessories by Finntwins and Shop Ellen, and jewelry by local artists, such as Lissa Bowie, Wanderbird, Lovestrella, and others. We like to support local and often look to curate goods from area companies. I’m constantly looking for pieces that are wearable for every day or something you can dress up in. And I’m obsessed with layering pieces to mix and match with any outfit.
In addition, you’re partnered with a spa.
Yes. We are also lucky to have Holtz Spa inside our space. Holtz Spa offers many wonderful treatments, medical esthetics, and exclusive skincare products.
Two elite beauty and wellness businesses under one roof, so that clients can enjoy a full day at the spa! We are a beauty wonderland and a great place to escape to without leaving the city.
As luck would have it, though, just when the salon was hitting its stride, something else hit: Covid.
As we were finally seeing the light at the end of the re-branding tunnel, COVID made its presence. We had to shut down temporarily, then we reopened and shut down again. By the third shut down, things were a little worrisome. After all of our hard work in building a team, we lost a couple of members due to career change but we stayed focused on our boutique, retail sales, and curbside pick-up. Selling products can’t pay the bills in this industry but it kept us in contact with our clients, which is always so important to us. And every time we re-opened, we made sure to take every precaution necessary to create a safe work environment for the staff and to make sure our guests felt safe upon return.
Having been in the industry as long as you have, having opened your own shop, and now, having coped with Covid, what’s the best advice you can give anyone?
The best piece of advice that I have received over the years is to push all carts at the same time. Never say “no” to anything because you never know when the next opportunity will come and if and when you decide to do something, do it with all your heart.
Photography by Sean Sisk
By Dan Lalande