An Interview with Gianna Tummolo: Owner of the Hair Salon for Your Soul

Rose Alarcon

Gianna Tummolo is a hairstylist and the owner of Glambar Salon in Yonkers, NY. This young entrepreneur has known what her purpose in life is since she was a young girl, watching with fascination as her mother styled their friends and family from their home. Her childhood dream is now a reality and one she shares with her supportive “GlamFam,” but she’s more than the average hairstylist. Gianna is just as devoted to boosting self-esteem and fostering her clients’ inner beauty as she is cutting the perfect look or arranging the perfect updo.

Tell us about yourself.

I am 28 years old, born and raised in Yonkers, NY, where I also have my salon. I eat, sleep, and breathe hair. I try to be a positive influence on everyone around me. All my life I’ve always tried to make others happy, which is why I feel I belong in the industry I’m in. Nothing makes me happier than helping people feel good about themselves and showing them how beautiful they can be. I graduated Maria Regina High School where I studied under the most amazing teachers and found even more amazing friends. I went to Concordia College for 3 semesters but then went on to graduate Capri Cosmetology where, again, between my teachers and friends, I couldn’t be more grateful. I have worked in a few salons and almost left the industry completely due to a few personal reasons. However, I managed to work all those out and stumbled upon an opportunity to open my first salon, Glambar, in 2015. My father and I renovated the salon with help from my brother and mother. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into the place. Two years later, I met my unbelievable fiancé, Michael, on Tinder (don’t judge, sometimes it works out) and we have a beautiful 18-month-old daughter. He helps me manage and run the salon along with my two sisters. One is our salon coordinator and the other is our outstanding waxing/makeup artist. I guess you can say we’re a very involved family. I wake up every day loving what I do and who I work with.

What made you get into doing what you do now?

My mother and father were my biggest inspirations. My mother had her own salon in 1990 but left it behind in 1992 to start a family. However, she still continued work on her craft with friends and family from time to time at home. I would watch her in awe and became mesmerized. During high school, I was the go-to hair girl and would style all of my friends before going out. I did go to college for some time, but my dream was to go to hair school. I was anxious to tell my parents I didn’t want to continue pursuing my bachelor’s degree because I would have been the first college graduate in my family. I was petrified to disappoint them, but as the days went on, I kept getting more and more confused about what I even wanted to do. I changed my major 3 times before I realized what needed to be done. One day, (while sitting in my probability/statistics class) I just stood up and walked out, knowing I was never going to return. In my typical, dramatic fashion, I sat down with my parents and tearfully explained my passion for the beauty industry. I confessed my desire to drop out and attend cosmetology school. In response, my father looked at me and said, “Gianna, if you told us you wanted to be a street cleaner, that you loved cleaning the streets, and that was your passion, we would support you all the way.” That was all I needed. I work tirelessly to become the best hairdresser I can possibly be to make them prouder than they ever imagined.

What differentiates you from others within your industry?

My industry is filled with some of the most amazing, creative, passionate people. What differentiates me is that I focus on the beauty all around. Yes, it’s my job to make people look good, but when someone sits in my chair, I’m committed to amplifying all their beauty. Not only is their hair going to look fantastic, but they are going to feel fantastic. I listen to my clients attentively and then do everything possible to execute and achieve the exact goal they imagine. My own goal isn’t to get clients in and out solely for the money. Every cut and comb is done with the intent of ensuring that my client leaves my salon a better and more beautiful person, on the outside and the inside.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years, I hope to have another location or maybe even multiple. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, that plan was put on hold for a bit. During quarantine, I tried to regroup and focus on what I could do to become a better stylist. I signed up for every online class imaginable, trying to sharpen my skills as to come reopen stronger and more knowledgeable than ever. That being said, expansion is definitely the ultimate goal.

What challenges have you faced while building your business and brand?

We faced so many challenges, but I’m actually grateful for each one since they all taught me such valuable lessons. Every challenge was diverse, forcing me to push myself and develop my identity as an entrepreneur. For example, we worked through were separating friends from business, managing appointments, managing the staff, and managing finances. Along the way, we also made some marketing mistakes which we grew from and brainstormed how to be different from other salons. Honestly, the list of obstacles could go on and on, but these were the most significant.

What have you learned from these challenges?

After all the trials and errors along the way, the most important lesson I learned was to just stay authentic. Ultimately, it’s absolutely pivotal to always stay true my original mission, which is to make people feel glamorous and style some amazing hair. We are a small salon. I like to call it a boutique. While it’s hard to keep up with the bigger salons that have more resources, we have our own brand and flair. We stay committed to who we are and make the absolute best with what we have. Honestly my girls and I have accomplished every goal that we set out. By dedicating ourselves to our craft, we have really made a great name for ourselves. From 2 to now 5 chairs, my salon is the little engine that could. It’s my baby that was able to grow because of the love and passion I constantly put into it. We’re genuine. We know who we are, and we don’t try to be anything we’re not. At the end of the day, I think the clients and even our social media audience really admire that.

What advice would you give to others while on their journey?

Stay organized! Write every single idea down, and not on your phone. Do it the old school way, with your favorite pen and a plain piece of paper. Brainstorm constantly and consistently. Don’t become complacent and always focus on education within your industry. Education is power and you can never learn enough. My high school theology teacher once wrote a quote on the board by Thomas Huxley that has had a huge impact on my life, which goes. “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” I think it’s also great advice to give to others. This was so interesting to me at the time and continues to make so much sense even now. My “something” is hair and that’s what I want to know “everything about.” It’s important to know a little “something about everything” because it helps to begin a conversation with others. No matter what business they’re in, you’ll be able to hold and keep a discussion going. You never know what might inspire or spark a new idea for you to incorporate into your own business.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Dear younger self,

Don’t be scared to be who you are. You have a light inside you that needs to shine and that the world needs to see. Don’t be scared to be different. Don’t be scared to take a different route from crowd and always follow your heart. Although you’ll learn the hard way soon, you are filled with wisdom that doesn’t need to listen to the opinions of others. Trust yourself. Just go for it, girl! Oh and try to start saving some of your money. You’re going to need that one day, trust me.

What is your why?

My “why” is my parents. Every day, I need to make them proud and show them that their support brought me success. My “why” is my fiancé, Michael, and my daughter. Michael really stepped up to the plate, especially when I got pregnant. He took over all managerial and financial roles in the salon. Sometimes I think he knows more about our color lines than we do! He is the most amazing partner I could ask for and he really helped me propel the salon to the next level. It’s only uphill from here. I want my daughter to look up to me as an inspiration and as a role model. When she grows up, I want to be her “cool mom.” My “why” is my GlamGirl staff. My girls push me to strive for ultimate success. Everything I do, I do for them. I know they will always have my back and so I will always have theirs. We have built a strong “GlamFam” bond that is hard to find in this industry. Most of all, my “why” is my clients. Whoever sits in my chair becomes my “why.” Why I do what I do is because of my passion for my craft and my desire to show people how beautiful they truly are. Without them, I wouldn’t be me.

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