Dritan Azemi’s parents wanted him to become a doctor or an engineer. But he had his own ideas about how he could best help people. Feeling a calling in the world of aesthetics, Azemi dropped out of college and moved with his family from his native Albania to southern California. One day while out walking, he happened by a beauty school and stopped in to speak with the director about enrolling. Though Azemi had planned to heal people as a massage therapist, the more he worked on the school's styling floor, the more inspired he was by the happiness his clients felt after a great haircut. On his 20th birthday, Azemi celebrated by speeding down Interstate 15—an act that got him pulled over, right at the exit leading to the Ontario Mills mall. There, he discovered what was then Allen Edwards salon, where he quickly worked up to senior stylist and educator. When industry legend and ceramic-tools innovator Adam Shuman took over, Azemi learned many of his signature styling techniques and eventually became the company's junior art director.
Azemi's parents soon announced that they were moving to Pittsburgh, and he had to give up his glamorous fashion shows and photo shoots. He retained his sunny California mentality, however, and felt he could use this to enhance salon-goers' experience in the Pittsburgh area. The accomplished stylist opened Azemi Salons in 2008, naming the business not only after himself, but after a root word in several Eastern languages that means “power” and “moving forward.” To continue forward in its client-empowering mission, his team now offers spa treatments alongside hair services, performing skin-specific facials, relaxing mani-pedis, and massages to leave muscles as relaxed as the dress code at a Halloween parade.
Certified beauticians convene in Hair Symmetry's well-lit salon and merge their modern sensibilities with clients' unique traits and goals to produce fashions both beautiful and tailored to the wearer. The salon's hair stylists leverage a roster of products, including Big Sexy Hair, ColorProof, and Moroccanoil, as they use deft scissor skills to refashion hairdos into modern headscapes and add colors so rich they could purchase real estate at the ends of a rainbow. Nail technicians dote on digits as clients kick back and relish the trimming and shaping of their fingers and toes, a process punctuated by applications of colorful OPI polishes and the Shellac Gel System by CND.
Large silver letters spelling Aveda march down a patterned wall, announcing the spa’s dedication to natural ingredients and aromatic botanicals. Multihued walls and verdant plants surround chairs as the staff performs hair coloring, nailcare, and spa treatments. The spa also offers off-site wellness coaching, proven more effective than hearing an ear-piercing whistle every time one reaches for a donut. Stylists and aestheticians stretch their hours until 8 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate busy clients, who also get incentives, such as 15% off Aveda products in return for donating haircare items to charity.
The decor at The Nailery is simple. Cushy red chairs tuck into manicure stations positioned before mirrors, and sand-colored walls stand elegantly bare, save for a shelf full of vibrant nail polish and a single decoration—a 2012 Reader’s Choice award from Trib Total Media. The hardware speaks to The Nailery’s excellence in service, as its team of licensed technicians grooms, shapes, and paints fingernails and toenails with top products from CND, Essie, and even no-chip gels by OPI. Clients can stop in for a quick and simple manicure, or sink into a cushy pedicure chair for a foot rub that’s more relaxing than knitting a scarf while taking a hot shower.
Deemed one of the city?s best salons in 2010 by the Pittsburgh City Paper, Dean of Shadyside has been beautifying clientele since its founding in 1984. Its stylists focus on hospitality and guarantee all their services, which include everything from a basic blow dry to feather extensions and three levels of highlights. Nail techs perform four types of manicures and three pedicures for everyday occasions or as part of packages for bridal parties. In a private office, staff experts also consult clients on hair loss and offer them wig-fashion services or attach extensions for more voluminous looks.
They've been in business for 23 years, and all that experience means the staff at Oliverio Hair & Nails has their job down to a creative science. After years of calibrating just the right techniques, the team of hairstylists and nail technicians can spend ample attention on each client during their appointments, which can range from mani-pedis that leave skin soft and nails bright, to waxing services that define features by shaping brows or removing unwanted fuzz from arms and legs, or face-framing haircuts furnished with eco-friendly Aveda hair products that work with a variety of hair styles.