tampabay.com

There are no strangers in his chair

By SANDY D'AMATO as told to MICHAEL KRUSE
Published February 6, 2007


Sandy D'Amato, 59, started cutting hair in New Jersey in 1963, opened his first shop in 1971, moved to Spring Hill in 1982 and last month opened a big new salon with 15 stylists on Northcliffe Boulevard next to Sherwood Florist and the Green Bean organic market. "When I first came here," he said last week, "I worked from 8 in the morning till 10 at night, just doing and doing and doing and doing." He hasn't stopped since. This is his 25th year doing Spring Hill's hair.

The money will always come if you're good.

You can take an ordinary person and make them look very good for a very small amount of money. You don't need plastic surgery to look good.

I'm not into plastic. Wood. Marble. Italian stuff.

We're about hair. I don't do skin. I don't do facials. I don't do spray tanning. We're all about hair.

Hair doesn't have a brain. I have a brain. I tell it what to do.

Everybody in here is an artist.

The consultation is the most important thing. I need to know about her lifestyle. What does she do in the morning? What does she do at night? How often does she wash her hair? Does she curl it? Does it frizz up?

When that lady is talking to you, you have to be able to tell where she wants to go. You have to know when to keep quiet and when to open your mouth. When to press on and when to back up.

The perfect face is an oval. If you have an oval face you're beautiful.

I might see them one way and their husband might see them another. One woman came in and asked me to dye her hair black so she could look the way she looked when she was 22. I told her: Do you know what you're going to look like with black hair? You're going to have to explain to your husband that you're not 22 anymore.

I met Theresa at a disco in Greenwood Lake, N.Y. We were both hairdressers. I proposed two months later. She said it was too soon. I proposed again on the third month. She said yes. She was 19, I was 21, and we had Italian mothers.

I love my wife. I love her opinions. I don't yell at her and she doesn't yell at me. She's my best friend. We've been married 37 years.

You don't get anywhere by taking the first person who walks through the door and whacking them for 70 bucks. Because they're not coming back.

The last time we raised the prices was January of '04. But you also can't do haircuts for $6, and who would want a $6 haircut, anyway?

People want to look different. People want to look better. The lady has to leave here looking beautiful.