When I was invited to check out the Alma Salon in Flatiron for a complimentary haircut and mani/pedi. I couldn’t wait to try the salon that has become the fave amongst celebs such as Rosario Dawson, Keri Russell, Steven Tyler, Rachel Roy, Jennifer Missoni, Ashton Kutcher and more. When I initially researched the salon and the owner, I wondered about who the woman behind the salon, Alma G, came to America with a dream and a passion for hair and became renowned talent in the industry.
I arrived at the salon a for my appointment and was quickly checked in by a very friendly and polite gentleman. Without missing a beat I was introduced to Alma the owner, creative director and namesake of the Salon. She looks young, vibrant and gorgeous. I notice the modern, clean atmosphere that incorporates unique artwork for warmth while soft, upbeat music like that by Caribou is playing in the background. Without missing a beat I am led to the hair washing station towards the back of the salon where I am introduced to a young girl who washed my hair with incredible grace, gentleness and efficiency. It was almost like poetry in motion as there were no wasted movements. When she was done I am led back to Alma.
We consult on what kind of hairstyle I am looking for. Today I am feeling pretty open – after over 4 years of having variations of long hair, I think it’s time for a change. Honestly, I kept my hair long for as long as I did because I’ve been chronically single for most of my NYC life and it represented my effort to be more attractive to men. Since I don’t have that need anymore, I cut off my hair to free myself and to symbolize change in my life. Alma tells me that she thinks I have great bone structure and she wants to give me something very blunt and points out the length that she wants to go. I give her the go ahead and with very swift decisive cuts she takes my hair in a whole new direction.
While she’s busy at work, we chat and it turns out that Alma actually discovered her love of hair at a young age by hanging around her aunt’s salon. Her passion was planted and at the age of 12 she experimented with cutting her unsuspecting sleeping father’s hair. Unfortunately, he wasn’t thrilled at her passion for hair and had other intentions in mind for his daughter (law school). With much bravery, Alma left her home country of Albania at the tender age of 17 and came to New York City to make her dreams come true.
Her parents stepped back and told her to try to do it on her own if she thought she could, and she did with great success. Imagine the shock on her father’s face when he opened the newspaper in Albania one morning to discover his daughter was now front page news! Alma shares that she now couldn’t have prouder parents and how her father often shares stories of what she is doing with his friends. In spite of the initial disagreement of career path, Alma is incredibly close to her family and she says,”When people ask me if I am rich, I tell them that I am because without family and without friends you don’t have anything, and I am very rich in my family and friends.” She also cites her mother as her hero and source of inspiration and speaks with great admiration of her creativity and “superwoman” like abilities to work with her hands.
She also tells me about how her popular salon treatment to promote hair growth called ALMATIZED. She originally developed it using her grandmother’s traditional recipe as a start when her friend’s baby was born with very fragile hair. The treatment helped restore the child to have normal hair and Alma decided to further develop it for use in her salon by clients. ALMATIZED is a handpicked selection of organic oils, including olive oil, tea tree oil and avocado oil, accented with rosemary and rose petals, each chosen for its natural conditioning power to restore shine, while smoothing out the follicles and promoting growth. Since I am fortunate to have a full head of healthy hair, I don’t have a need to try this treatment but I’m curious if it would help my mother who has struggled with thinning hair for much of her adult life.
Alma’s dream was not to open her own salon but after working in the industry for a years and finding that her talent was not recognized and feeling like she wasn’t being treated with respect, she decided to open a salon so she could be in charge of her work environment. She chose each member of her staff with care and anyone who came with an attitude was very quickly filtered out.
I am used to hair stylists telling me that I have great healthy hair, but sometimes I’ve been told that it’s almost harder to cut because it’s almost too healthy and it becomes slippery. Alma tells me that she just finds that to be a excuse for lack of skill to ever blame a client’s hair for inability to cut. From entrance to wash to the end of my haircut was under 40 minutes.
Everyone is part of a team and everyone helps each other out. I witness this firsthand while I was getting my toes done. I’m not sure if staffers noticed, but I quietly observed as they quietly cleaned any speck of dirt off the floor, cleaned the sink after every customer’s hair is washed, kept busy making sure that the salon was spotless whenever they had a moment to spare.
My mani/pedicurist is super friendly and she tells me how much she loves the environment and how much she loves her job and her co-workers. She has been at the salon for 3 years and she tells me how much she has learned and how every client is an important person. At Alma since it is a place of beauty every staffer is given the opportunity to get their hair cut and their nails done and she tells me she dresses up to come to work everyday because she see’s it as going to a party. I can tell that she takes true pride in her handiwork and I am given the most thorough and careful pedicure of my life. She uses instruments that almost look like medical tools, including one that was a gift from a client who specifically brought it back from Israel for her use. I watch as she transforms my winter worn feet to sparkling fresh feet. She constantly is aware of my comfort and checks in for discomfort and possible pain often. After my previously battled feet are sparkly, my hands are much quicker to whip into shape.
While they don’t have massaging chairs in place, I am given an actual neck and shoulder massage while my nails are drying that was ultra relaxing. While most salons have told me I’m finished before my nails have 100% cured, I feel like when I leave Alma, my nails were fine to reach into my purse with my manicure staying intact. It’s rare to find an escape from life where staffers genuinely take pride in their handiwork and it makes a huge difference in your experience. The service at Alma was flawless and Alma, the woman is amazing and inspirational.From head to toe I feel like a whole new woman ready to start Spring with a bounce. The blunt look makes me feel edgier and stronger than before.
The Alma Salon NYC - 38 East 21st St (b/n Park Ave & Broadway) 212-353-0600