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."
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.
In Studio 14—one of Paradise’s many spaces occupied by an extensive roster of beauty-industry specialists—Tiffany Lifton tends to hair with a bountiful repertoire of salon services. As guests soak up the island-inspired decor and works from local artist Talin Johnson, Tiffany smoothes their locks with keratin treatments, reshapes their ’dos with precision cuts, and rejuvenates looks with hair-coloring services. Once they feel properly beautified, clients can re-energize at Paradise's café. There, organic coffee or lemonade pairs with culinary treats made by the café’s executive chef. Along with its daytime skin, body, and wellness services, Paradise Salon, Spa, & Cafe often hosts evening entertainment, including occasional karaoke nights.
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.
As a sister company to Glamour Shots Photography, InStyle Salon & Spa welcomes guests into an earthy atmosphere that complements natural beauty. Textured mocha paint hues climb the salon's walls and archways, and foggy windowpanes allow in sunlight while blocking the jealous stares of overgrown shrubs. Each client at InStyle Salon & Spa receives a personal consultation to explore styling options and the benefits of specific treatments before their service. The hair-design and haircare experts work with Goldwell Haircolor products and techniques and also adhere natural-hair extensions and apply strengthening treatments. The staff also offers facial services with customized-treatment masks and waxing services to keep bodies aerodynamic during apple-bobbing competitions.
This NY-style manstitution harkens back to the barbershop heyday of the '40s, with intricate gold-trimmed walls, classy chandeliers, and a team of friendly hair whisperers that's armed and legged to whip follicles into shape. A tenure spent nestled in the shop's plush fur-fighting chairs can take two forms. Stylishly eradicate facial fuzz with a luxurious hot-lather shave, employing heated shaving cream and a pristine straight-blade to render a clean-cut appearance matched only by Library of Congress cadets and Ken dolls. Or, opt for the all-encompassing haircut service, having your strands styled to your liking as well as lovingly shampooed and conditioned. A shirt-flattering neck-shave is also included, preventing shady back-neck tendril trades.