We are very pleased to introduce Dennis Bartolomei from his salon in Chicago where he caters expert services delivering magnificent hair for some of Chicago’s most affluent business owners, lawyers and doctors. The Dennis Bartolomei Salon space is a personal and intimate environment, having already won an award as Chicago's best salon.
1/ Tell us what you think is the biggest challenge in hairdressing today?
I think the biggest challenge in hairdressing is navigating expectations. Clients now have access to unlimited inspiration through social media, which is pretty incredible. This becomes a challenge when a client’s hair history will not allow for the look they have chosen. Most clients expect that anything can be done in one appointment, and most clients have some degree of history that can alter the result. It is difficult to explain to a client that they will not mirror their inspiration, but I find that stressing the health of the hair above all else helps the clients shift their expectations.
2/ What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
The part of my job that I enjoy the most is that I get to spend my day talking to incredibly smart people. I am excited to say that I get to learn something new every single day. I also love the instant gratification of the industry. All of my projects are between 45 minutes and 2 hours, and in that short time, I get to create a transformation that brings a client happiness and self-confidence.
3/ Why did you choose the path of hairdressing and was it easy to fall into this work?
It was easy for me to fall into hairdressing, because I grew up in the business. My mother was a hairdresser, and I was able to experience every aspect of the industry from the time I could walk. I always knew I had a natural ability for hairdressing, and I used my professional education to hone and perfect my skills.
4/ If you had not made the decision to be a hairdresser what would you have been?
If I had not been a hairdresser, I absolutely would have wanted to be a doctor. I love the relationship building and trust between a doctor and a patient, and I loved the idea of helping people through difficult times. My grades in high school didn't quite set me up for that career path, but I am still able to build relationships and help people through hairdressing, so I would say I am incredibly happy for the path I have chosen.
5/ What is your greatest strength ?
My greatest strength is creating lasting relationships with clients. I have clients that have been with me for decades, and they are still eager to send me their colleagues, new friends, and daughters. Those type of clients don't just land in your chair - you have to be committed to growing relationships, building that trust, and truly loving those who are loyal to you. You never know if your next new client will be with you for 20 years, so it is my instinct to treat each client like family, and let them know how you value their business.
6/ Your favorite hairdressing tools?
It sounds basic, but my favorite tool in my drawer is my wide tooth comb. I have had the same one for almost a decade, and I probably bought it from Sally's for $3. It is my tried and true - I use it on almost every blowout. A few runs through with that comb, and it perfectly loosens it up and deconstructs the finished look.
7/ Tell us about your relationship with Iles Formula. How you discovered us and which formula is your favorite?
I discovered Iles Formula when I was digging around on the internet. I saw that Wendy had done her first launch at Ron Robinson in LA. I had inquired about selling the product, and Wendy personally called me a day later. She chose our salon to launch the Iles Formula in Chicago, and it has been our favorite line ever since. It is hard to pick my favorite formula. My favorite part of the line is the incredible synergy between the 4 products. If I had to choose, I would say the new masque is my favorite. It has completely transformed my frizziest, driest heads of hair.
8/ What was your worst hair moment and why…. privately or on set/stage or in the salon?
I can't really think of a specific time, but every once in a while, the communication between yourself and the assistant breaks down a bit. You are ultimately responsible for the outcome of your client's hair, and thankfully, nothing could ever go so wrong where it couldn't be fixed right away.
9/ If you could style anyone's hair, who would it be and why?
If I could style anyone's hair, it would have to be Ana Navarro - My focus is on politics right now, and I love and admire her.
10/ Where do you pull hair inspiration from?
I have several people in the industry that I follow, but most often, I pull my inspiration from my team at my salon in Chicago. They are setting the trends and always stay one step ahead of what is current. I am truly lucky to be surrounded by their incredible work every day, and all I need to do is look across the floor for my inspiration.
11/ Your advice to young hairdressers starting out?
I have a few pieces of advice for young hairdressers. The first is to learn as much as you can - take every class available to you. Even if there is only one little thing that you take from it, keeping yourself open to education is so incredibly important. You have a beautiful, long career ahead of you - trends and techniques will be constantly changing. Stay flexible and keep your eagerness to learn and grow. My other piece of advice is simple - when engaging your clients, listening to them is much more important than talking to them.
Follow him on social media : Instagram @dennisbartolomeisalon
and enjoy some of his work.