For salon owner, stylist and TV beauty expert Salvatore Leonetti, opening a salon in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood was a natural fit. “I started in the hair industry by assisting and becoming an apprentice at a hair salon in Yorkville,” he says. “When I was 25 years old, I decided to take the plunge and become a salon owner, and now I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years.”
After owning his first salon for 15 years, Leonetti decided it was time for a new space with a new look, all the while remaining in the same area where he built a career, and Leonetti+Co Salon was born. “I knew that I wanted to open my space in the same area that I had been working in and felt that by having my hands working on the same street that I learned the craft on, I couldn’t go wrong,” he says. “I made a calculated risk because I opened up a salon close to where I trained and where I had already built my clientele. I think it was important to me to maintain that familiarity when it came to opening up my own space and it eliminated a lot of the risks.”
Leonetti and his wife, Maria Alencar Leonetti, began the process by finding the right space for them, although she admits that she didn’t even get to see the space before committing to it.
“When I walked into the space for the first time, it was a no-brainer,” she says. “The view and the lighting were amazing, and when it came to the design of the space, I knew that we just had to put some love into it to make it our own.”
Inspired by Their Travels
The husband-and-wife duo and their family often travel to South America and Italy, which is where they garnered a lot of their design inspiration.
“During one of our trips to Italy, we went to Sicily and we just loved all of the architecture and the arches,” says Maria. “We knew we loved the feel, but we didn’t want that traditional look. When we went to Brazil, we spent a week in a beach town called Iriri. It was so beautiful. The lifestyle was amazing, and everything was so well manicured and Pinterest worthy, but the thing that really got us was the energy. It was so light and positive. The surfers were walking around barefoot and there was still a sophistication in the air, and we wanted to replicate that feeling.”
“We ultimately wanted a creative space for the team because even though I’m in the salon a lot, when I’m not behind the chair I’m working on CityLine, so I don’t have the time to micromanage,” adds Leonetti. “We wanted the vibe that we created in the salon to be the same vibe that the team has, and we like to bring on like-minded stylists while giving them creative freedom.”
After deciding on the ambience they wanted to create, the pair hired a team of contractors and architects to help with the drawings of the layout and the build. “You can have a company come in and do everything for you, but a lot of times these companies don’t know the day-to-day,” says Leonetti. “The stylist who’s opening the salon does, and they’ve been in the business long enough to know where they want things to go and what they need out of the space. It’s really important not to let go of all control and your vision.”
The couple says there was a lot of communication involved when it came to deciding on what elements were necessary to improve the overall function of the salon. “Sal is the one who’s on the floor, so I sat down with him and asked him what he needed out of the space, what he needed out of the stations and lighting, etc.,” says Maria. “There were many times when I was going to the site and telling the team to change something because I knew based on what Sal wanted that it wasn’t going to work for the day-to-day.”
“I knew I wanted our clients to be able to see us mixing their colour,” says Leonetti. “Sometimes in a salon, a colourist will come out to talk to the client, and then they’ll disappear to mix the colour. It’s the most scientific part of our industry and, for some reason, we hide it, so having our colour bar open was something I knew the space needed and I’ve noticed that I love watching the clients watch the colourists. They love to see what goes into the colour, so we achieved what we were looking for and it has become my favourite area of the salon.”
“In addition to doing hair, I really love to cook and I love the process of going to a restaurant and seeing an open kitchen,” he adds. “It’s one thing to [enjoy the end result] but it’s another thing to see their creativity when they’re making it.”
After seeing the salon come together, Leonetti shares that he feels an immense feeling of accomplishment. “This salon took four months to complete, but it has really been 22 years in the making,” he says. “I reached a new pinnacle in my career, and I was fortunate enough to do it with my super-creative wife. We really put everything into this space.”
Opened in 2022
1,800 square feet
Kérastase Sachajuan Mela & Kera L’Oréal Redken
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