Let’s face it. Who wouldn’t love to have their hair in the hands of someone who has worked on The Oscars, Grammys, or Emmys? Or someone whose work can be seen every morning on one of television’s highest rated morning shows?
Well if you put your hair in the hands of Gregg Giannillo, you can get your wish. This 44-year-old beauty magnate has been in the industry for almost 25 years and is responsible for styling the hair of high profile celebrities such as Vanessa Williams, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and on a daily basis Lara Spencer of “Good Morning America.”
I had the chance to meet with Gregg and have my hair styled at his luxurious boutique salon located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. With pink and black trimmings on the exterior, this salon is the epitome of style inside and out. Upon entering, the friendly receptionist greeted me immediately and asked me to have a seat in their waiting area. The waiting area is comfortable, well lit and features tons of reading material (including Boaz Stark’s “The Drag Queen Baby Name Book”, which I certainly perused while I waited). Also in the waiting area was a display featuring Giannillo’s brand of hair products “Boudoir Hair”.
I sat down with Gregg to discuss with him how he came to be so successful in the Beauty Industry. Raised in Long Island, Gregg never believed this was something he could do. Despite being so prodigious that he gave his first haircut at 10 years old. “I didn’t know you could do this. Growing up in Long Island, teachers and hair stylists were always women.” It wasn’t until much later, when he attended college and befriended a group of students that were in the beauty industry, that he knew this was what he was meant to do. After much convincing, his parents allowed him to enroll in Beauty School and things only took off from there.
He started working in television officially in 2004 and opened Giannillo Salon in September 2009. When discussing his staff, I asked Gregg about the qualities he looks for when hiring a new stylist. He said “Loyalty, talent, commitment, and drive.” Gregg goes on to state that he is very hands on with the training that occurs when taking on a new stylist. When asked how he finds them, he explains that he visited many salons from other neighborhoods in the city, and would often look for the “star” of that salon. He then takes the time to polish, groom and instructs them in the way he styles hair.
He launched “Boudoir Hair” in 2009 after feeling frustrated with having to carry numerous products that he felt didn’t work. He invested the time to personally work on the color, names, smell, and formula that goes into each of his products. Their products have a chic design with fun and flirty names such as “Silk Stocking”, “Bustier” and “Fishnets.”
Before we went to cut my hair, I asked Gregg what he wants customers to feel when they walk in. He said, “Warmth, welcoming. I want them to feel like they are as much a part of my world as a celebrity who would come in.” As we were speaking, I noticed that to be true as every customer stopped to say goodbye and have a personal exchange with Gregg.
Gregg directed me towards the back of the salon where a closet full of stylish black “Giannillo Robes” were hanging. I went into the changing room to put it on and proceeded to have my hair shampooed. The staff was beyond accommodating and took the time to make sure I felt relaxed and comfortable prior to the actual haircut.
As Gregg was cutting my hair, I asked what his approach is with a customer when they first come to him. He said he asks two questions “What do you like about your hair? What DON’T you like about your hair?” From the answers in those two questions, Gregg is able to guide the customer through the various reasons as to why their current style may not be working or the reasons specifically why the customer is dissatisfied with their hair. Gregg was able to correct the fade I usually get, stating that he felt it should end much lower on my head. And he even corrected the proportions in my sideburns, that no hair stylist had been able to decipher before.
The result was a far greater improvement in the balance and texture of my hair. He used one of his pomade products “Crushed Velvet” to provide a new style for my hair and I’ve been using it every day since.
On my way out I asked Gregg what the most rewarding part of his job is and what the most difficult is. He smiled and said “The instant gratification of watching a client happy and transformed in 30 minutes.” As to the hardest part, he says sometimes it’s communication but that for him it rarely happens.
And based on my own experience and the customers I saw as they left, I’d say that is true.