Panama native Nina Garcia was a hairstyling prodigy. Her innate ability to cut hair manifested at age 14. "I [would] do it for my neighbors and my friends," she explains. "I love to do hair. It's where my passion [is]." Now in the United States, Nina has accumulated 17 years of professional experience, putting in time at two salons before opening her own, where she keeps the atmosphere light and comfortable. "I like to keep people happy," she says. "I offer wine to people in the afternoon. I'm a very sweet person, and I love to meet new people."
In one of three styling chairs, Nina or one of her talented stylists rehabs hair with a new face-framing cut, coloring services, or a deep-conditioning treatment using high-end products such as Italian Alfaparf. The versatile team can even take care of hands and feet. "I have a girl who does manicure and pedicures," she says. "She uses OPI polish." Through patrons often come in simply to update their haircut and style, Nina's most popular service is the Brazilian keratin treatment, a retexturizing treatment that delivers healthy, frizz-free hair to clients and vintage troll dolls.
Regardless of the service being provided, Nina always emphasizes the importance of listening to the client and tailoring every service to his or her personal style. "You have to roll in their direction. I think that's the best way—don't change what they think. It's that way in style and in life. If you want to change something, do it. That's it."
Named after the Greek word for me, Emena Spa centers on the individual through a bevy of complimentary amenities, soothing décor, and pampering services. The doting staff stays true to the spa's namesake, ushering clients into one of six private treatment rooms for a revitalizing microdermabrasion or detoxifying peel accented by organic products, cutting-edge technology, and aesthetic know-how. Stylists and nail technicians pore over features with attentive services that elicit youthful beauty, and the facility's Power Plate vibrating platform gives clients the opportunity to tone their bodies without long hours at the gym or smudge-prone bicep marker drawings. For full-body enhancement, massage therapists unearth tension through four modalities as licensed physician's assistants target unwanted hair and skin blemishes with GentleMax laser technology.
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When people talk about huge transformations, a butterfly or a fairy-tale frog may come to mind. At Radiance Beauty Lounge, significant transformations are not limited to idle observation or fantasy—they really happen. Owner Yesenia Payano witnesses this frequently, and it’s what keeps her excited about running the Radiance Beauty Lounge. Her handpicked stylists and colorists, who attend ongoing education to stay savvy with trends, “can change somebody’s life,” she says. She recently watched a client’s “incredible” metamorphosis, after which the client "hugged the stylist—three times.”
It’s not surprising that the client felt so comfortable and overjoyed, because Radiance Beauty Lounge goes out of its way to make clients feel welcome. Happy hours—from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays—outfit clients with a complimentary mimosa, cocktail, or personal cheer squad as they receive keratin treatments or spa services such as facials and massages. Radiance Beauty Lounge is open until 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays for post-work or pre-party styles.
Equipped with creativity and beauty skills honed at institutes in Barcelona, Spain, seasoned cosmetologist and stylist Monica Rosental brought her hair and eyelash talents stateside when she opened her salon in 2003. Her background studying painting, music, and architecture lends the eyes of an artist to her services, such as sculpting hairstyles with fresh cuts, adding texture to strands, or splashing hair with new hues. Monica's specialty is hair extensions, and she advises clients on the best type to fit their needs before tucking in clips, attaching keratin tips, or affixing tape or curtain extensions. In addition to tending hair, Monica ups eyelash potential with extensions, dyes, and perm services. Soothing music imbues the salon's private suites with a relaxing atmosphere, and a free parking area boasts enough room to fit several cars or a single brontosaurus.
Situated amongst the Design District’s hip shops, boutiques and cafés is Hairdragon Salon. Opened in 2006, owner Drako Romaniuk strives to set a new standard for individual style, with innovative beauty techniques found at his lush boutique inside of the Atlas Plaza. With a loyal following, Romaniuk and his team specialize in precision and textured haircuts, thermal straightening, keratin treatments, healthy hair care and corrective color techniques, with state-of-the-art equipment canvassing the Asian-accented shop. The salon also offers hair extensions, bridal hair up-do’s, and makeup application, which makes Hairdragon a one-stop shop for any woman’s big day preparations. It is no surprise that Romaniuk, whose A-list clients include Eva Longoria and supermodel Veronica Webb, has been recognized as one of the best hair stylists in South Florida.
It was time for a change for Graciela Castro. After years spent working in finance, she realized that her fast-paced career had hobbled her health, relationships, and ability to sit still for a whole rendition of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." So Castro learned to style hair, something she knew she would love once she observed how much a chic cut could lift a person’s spirits. It wasn't long before she opened Graciela's Salon. There, staff members apply the skills they learned at international style conferences to perform services with Paul Mitchell hair treatments or Gelish or Essie nail-polish hues. To enhance the mind-body experience she values, Castro makes clients feel at home by providing such complimentary beverages as wine and coffee, as well as free wireless-Internet access.