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.
Owners and principal members of the stylist team Emilio and Gino corral their decades of experience to create two distinct spaces where clients revel in personalized services. They staff more than 60 aesthetes, each of whom receives focused training on adjusting hair, skin, nail, and massage services to clients’ stated preferences and lifestyle. During and after haircuts, the team uses a house brand of products to style strands and address specific hair problems such as color fading, excessive oil, or naturally occurring pipe cleaners. During facials, the aestheticians home in on what lies below bangs by cleansing, toning, exfoliating, and moisturizing skin, and tension dissipates during therapists' restful massage sessions. The downtown Pittsburgh location also plays host to an elegant serata—a private, chandelier-lit escape where bridal parties can enjoy ultimate relaxation before addressing the fact that their friend is marrying a panda bear.
With 60 years of combined styling experience, the Allure Hair Designs & Mini Spa owners, Tami McCleary and Judy Campbell, wield high-quality hair products to deliver an extensive menu of services. Experienced tress tamers crop unruly coifs with cuts for women ($36+) and men ($27+), soothe stressed strands with a relaxing shampoo and style ($25+), and coax stubborn ponytails into dignified updos ($55+) more effectively than threatening to take away their scrunchie privileges. Opt for a color retouch ($45+), or subtly or dramatically enhance hair with partial foil highlights ($55+), putting strands in the hands of staff members who strive to maintain and improve texture as they work in a new shade. Stylists keep up-to-date with mane-modifying techniques by attending local and national seminars, studying under experts such as What Not to Wear ’s Nick Arrojo and at New York’s Wella Studio, and gazing intently into crystal balls to determine clients' innermost styling desires before each appointment.
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.
The acclaimed eikön Hair Lounge was the brainchild of scalp-styling whiz Stephen Graham. Graham's idea was to assemble a group of top-notch stylists and empower them to explore their creative impulses and define their own sensibilities. It's easy to see why this eclectic approach appeals to Graham. The hairstylist harbors an artistic streak himself, and studied ceramic engineering in college. The melting-pot milieu at eikön has won an equally diverse set of clients. The salon was dubbed Best Hair Salon by Whirl magazine, and team hairstylist by the Pittsburgh Passion, a women's football squad fed up with Vidal Sassoon's insistence that they not wear helmets. :]]
Stylists at Dolce' Vita Salon & Spa know that living the sweet life isn't just about being rich; it's about feeling comfortable and confident in your own skin. So they try to help their clients retain sharper images with professional haircuts, color, and keratin hair-smoothing treatments that make hair sleeker and enable it to fit back into its prom hat. Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed—clients voted Dolce' Vita the best salon in Wexford in Trib Total Media’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards. To keep the good vibes flowing below the shoulders, the spa also offers spa services that include Swedish or deep-tissue massage, custom facials, and Minx Nails mani-pedis.