A brand-new salon with generations of experience
The Salon of Fairfield, the spacious and elegant new establishment on the Post Road, is under the director’s comb of Gary Corigliano, whose expertise in hairdressing has, well, roots. Corigliano’s uncle, Charles Tuozzoli, owner of a hair salon in town where Gary worked for three years, was instrumental in getting the law changed back in the 1970s to break the barbershop barrier—barbershops for men and salons for women. Now, of course, plenty of men go to salons.
Corigliano’s sister, Jaime, is also in the hair-styling business as is his cousin Adam Tuozzoli, his other uncle, David Tuozzoli, and his father-in-law, Kenny Zerella. Oh, and his wife Deonna is in the business, too.
Hairstylists, along with bartenders and psychiatrists, must be among the most talked-to people on earth. For them there is an endless recitation of loves both burgeoning and lost, woes of every permutation, opinions both left and right, and, just occasionally, a secret that comes out like truth on a jury stand. But this occupational hazard happens to be what Corigliano enjoys most.
“I like people and I like listening to people” Corigliano says. “You get to know about their families and their ups and downs. Somehow, sitting there in the salon chair, it’s relaxing. Maybe it’s just that people feel taken care of. I don’t know. What I do know is that the key to this business is listening—really listening to how people want their hair to look. Of course, sometimes they don’t know exactly what they want their hair to look like, but they know how they want to feel when it’s done right.”
“It’s the moment I live for—when someone is really happy about how they look. They’re practically floating on air. That’s a really wonderful feeling,” he adds.
A year ago, Corigliano ventured out from David Mac’s salon, where he was a manager, to start his own business. “I knew I wanted to be in Fairfield,” he says. “My grandparents settled here when they came to this country and our family has always had ties here. Besides, it is the most happening place in the area. And we plan to stay—I have a ten-year lease.”
Corigliano has plenty of sweat equity in the place, having done much of the construction himself. After negotiating floors, plumbing, and the town-approval process, he finally opened in December. “Not a great time to open,” he recalls. “But the economy seems to be getting better and each month the business grows.” Through advertising? “Oh, we do that. You have to. And word of mouth.”
Even though Corigliano, 31, has been working in the salon business since he was 16, he originally wanted to be a chef. “I worked in a restaurant that a family member owned but then I observed the owner and chef were never home. I knew I wanted to have a family so that didn’t seem such a good deal to me. But I liked the kind of business that involved interaction with people. So this is perfect. I love it.”
Corigliano and his business partner, Jessica Mentes, are currently part of a five-member team making good use of the 2,700-square-foot salon. “All of our people,” says Mentes, “are very well trained and experienced. We have no beginners.”
When asked what the biggest problem in the hairdressing business is, Corigliano doesn’t hesitate. “Color,” he says. “Not that color is a problem for us. In fact, we offer a signature service that uses a single-process coloring, a pre-color treatment to deal with porosity, a color glaze to balance the color throughout the hair.”
Anything else? “People really get into trouble with home kits,” he adds. “If you don’t do it just right, you will not want to go out in public for weeks.”
And heads, of course is what he seems to be all about. “It’s just amazing to me,” Corigliano says, “how much difference hair makes to people’s lives because of how they feel about themselves.