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Our hair is often seen as a reflection our identity. It can be a personal statement to a very public audience. Just think how many times us women feel that a bad hair equals a bad day. There’s no two ways about it, right? If it’s hot and humid, you can say hello to frizz. When we want volume and curls, our locks just fall flat. When we have a bad hair day, our self esteem is affected, which is why we love to pay that six-weekly (maybe a little longer for some) visit to our beloved hair dresser slash confidant, (you know exactly what I’m talking about).
The one person we trust with our luscious locks and who usually knows exactly what to do to make it look perfect. So when you actually think about it, how long have you been making those visits? To the same salon?
A couple of months? A year? Two years? Maybe 50?
That’s right, 50 years! Half a century.
For one local hairdresser, that’s exactly what 2015 brings them—their Golden Jubilee as they celebrate 50 years of business in the nation’s capital. From humble beginnings, Cataldo’s Salon opened its doors back in 1965 and to this day still holds a strong presence with its two salons, in Civic and Woden.
In 1965 Giuseppe Cataldo started Cataldo’s Hairdressing, predominately a barber shop with two styling chairs for ladies in Hobart Place. His young sons, Emilio and Angelo, helped out by sweeping the floors.
In 2015, Emilio and Angelo, with other brother Aldo, run the business which continues as one of Canberra’s top salons. Cataldo’s now operates two locations, one in Civic and the other in Woden which is run by business partner and 30 year Cataldo’s veteran Karen Spradau.
Through the 1960s, Cataldo’s customers would visit for their weekly shampoo and set. The 1970s was all about perming. The 1980s… big hair! And like the hairstyles they’ve created over the last 50 years, the hair business has changed a lot. Today the salon is inspired by the world’s dynamic fashion industry.
“Fashion and hair are inextricably linked. You can’t have great front covers of Vogue without the hairstyles,” said Emilio Cataldo.
With almost as many years in the industry as the hairs on your head, Emilio knows his way around curls, waves, bangs and more, and sets high standards in his Canberra salons.
Yet his work, along with his reputation, are well known – not only locally, but abroad too. Cataldo’s boasts both national and international recognition, specifically in editorials including Harper’s Bazaar and marie claire as well as having his work feature in the International Hairdressers Journal.
The salon has experienced this firsthand, with many glamorous magazine covers over the years featuring the work of Cataldo’s talented stylists.
Cataldo’s has also won countless national and international awards including ACT Salon of the Year 18 years in a row. Emilio even represented Australia at the 1980 Hairdressing World Cup in Rotterdam.
While the Cataldos still place importance on family, with third generation Cataldos picking up the scissors, their idea of family isn’t limited to blood relations.
“We’ve trained over 350 apprentices and stylists. Our team are very much part of our family. Some of the hairdressers we’ve trained are now educating others around the world,” said Angelo Cataldo.
Emilio adds, “Education is very important to us. Not just skill with hair, but life skills, interpersonal skills they can transfer to everyday life. Our father imparted a sense of genuine customer service, which we now impart on our stylists.”
With 50 years behind them, the next 50 look just as exciting. Their Northbourne Avenue salon is moving to new premises in Ainslie Place.
15 years ago, Cataldo’s Salon offered their clients free dial up internet, and TV screens for entertainment – helping them to win the Australian Best New Salon Design award. Today the Cataldos feel there’s too much digital, and not enough genuine human interaction.
“Hairdressing is now one of the few experiences people can have where there is physical contact and real conversation,” Emilio says. “The new premises will focus on that tactile experience, so our clients don’t just leave with great hair, they leave having had a relaxing, enjoyable, real experience.”
The new salon is set to open its doors early 2016.
The place: Cataldo’s Salon
Where: 55-57 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra City or Shop 2 Sky Plaza, 98 Corinna Street, Phillip
When: Tuesday 9:30am–6pm; Wednesday 9:30am–6pm; Thursday 10:15am–8pm; Friday 9:30am–7pm; and Saturday 9am–4pm
Phone: Canberra City (02) 6162 0366 or Woden (02) 6249 6666