I was home on the West Side of New York City when I first heard about the World Trade Center. My first thought was that my child was being driven to school by my husband, and they were unreachable by phone or any other way.
The sky outside my dining room window was gray and dark. Then I heard on the television that the Pentagon had been hit.
I thought I could run to my daughter’s school. I went outside and saw another mom from the school, so we started running together. All along West 96th Street, traffic was stopped, with people listening to radios with car doors open so everyone could hear. People were crying.
Finally, at Central Park West I saw Carmine with my daughter and another of her two friends walking. Our car had been stopped and police said it could not be moved.
On a land line, I was finally able to get through to my salon and tell my front desk team to GET OUT and CLOSE THE SALON.
We actually had two angry clients who said, "We came all the way here, so why not do my hair!" But we didn’t, of course.
Most people, however, were in shock. Many said beauty was just silly. Everyone seemed to be waiting for the end of the world. Everyone was looking for easy answers to why it had happened, and for someone to blame.
In the days and weeks that followed, several of our staff suffered panic attacks. One woman quit to move away. She was simply afraid. Constant bomb threats at Barneys across the street kept staff and clients on edge.
For months, we experienced tremendous business loss. Clients from Connecticut and New Jersey quit coming. Women who would regularly fly in from across the country and across the pond (England) were too afraid of New York City. It wasn’t money, it was fear.
But other clients clung to beauty and to their regular desire to take care of their hair.
“Several people we knew died that day. I don't think we ever forget, but we do adjust. We will never be the same confident, totally "cool" people again. Everyone goes on and hopes this never happens again and yet we all know it could. So, we take every day and try to do our best.
I will be teaching in Texas on Sunday and Monday, but my memory will be here in NYC, remembering that day when I thought the world might be ending.”
MAXIMUS SPA & SALON
“Prior to September 11, 2001, we had only one location—and it was downtown. We were just getting ready to expand our company to midtown Manhattan, and then expand further, with more locations planned outside of New York.
“My construction date to start the Midtown location, was Sept 12th. But on 9/11, I lost everything. My club—John Allan’s club membership salon for men—was just across the street from Ground Zero.
“We lost hundreds of clients who did not survive that day, and hundreds more that moved out of the area.
“After the smoke cleared and seven months had passed, we reopened, but business was down 87 percent.
“During our down time, while under construction in midtown, my biggest concern was my team. We had an established crew out of work.
“I established a make-shift club on the 19th floor of the Roosevelt Hotel. I offered free services to any of our clients who could get there. I needed to keep my team busy and engaged, for our own sanity. Our clients did pay, and they took good care of the staff for three months.
“I received a little help from the government, but that was difficult to navigate. Anything we received, went to staff, to keep them going.
“When I reopened downtown, it was a ghost town. The staff, led by the manager Marianna Baldi, really deserve the credit. I personally did not want to return. But our members, the clients, all wanted to have their place back.
“What I learned was that John Allans was not just a hair salon, but a culture. It was not just a hair cut, but a place where guys came to relax, decompress, talk and catch up. The loyalty from both clients and staff was amazing. I could not be more proud.
“After reopening downtown, then opening our midtown location in 2012, my company has since opened in Saks Fifth Avenue, in Tribeca, in Chicago and Toronto. We have also started a products division that sells around the globe, and an educational platform that trains stylists and owners in both cutting and marketing to expand their men’s business.
Ultimately, September 11th 2001, made me strong. Coming out of that experience showed me we can do anything. It also taught me that if you believe in what you are doing, don't wait, because you never know what could happen.”