Canada-native, Creative & Technical Director of Wella, the Salon Professional Division of P&G Beauty, mentor to Team ICAN and driving force behind Wella’s “Hairdressers at Heart” campaign, MODERN spoke to Fabio Sementilli as he was planning “Hairdressers Helping Hairdressers,” an industry-wide event to aid hairdressers impacted by super-storm Sandy.
A young Sementilli chose beauty after rejecting institutional learning. His mother hoped he’d take up law, so he went to university. Sementilli explained why he hated it: “Huge rooms with 300 people and being lectured all day.”
He dropped out and hit the road. “I went on a ‘find myself’ trip,” he said. “I ended in Italy where my family was from and spent time with my cousins who were hairdressers. They were really cool hairdressers—artists with a culture, a lifestyle approach to hairdressing. I quickly fell in love with it.” His older sister had just finished beauty school, so at 19 and 21 they joined forces and, with their mother’s help, opened their first salon.
“At first, we had so few clients I remember sleeping in the back waiting for my next appointment.” But within eight months, they had one of the hottest, hippest salons in Toronto. “We worked all day and then, at night, we were out at clubs, restaurants, giving out cards. My book started to fill up.”
Soon, he made another personal discovery: “I knew in my heart that I was never going to be behind the chair six days a week—I’m not that focused—so I got into competitions.”
“I did not know I was going to be the only stylist on stage for two days. I had no business being there—I didn’t have the talent or chutzpah—but I spoke from my heart and that resonated with other stylists.”
Sementilli was competing at shows in North America and was also a contender at the World Championship of Hairdressing for Canada.
When Wella approached Sementilli about joining them, Sementilli and P&G Salon Professionals CEO Reuben Carranza had a heart-to-heart. “I told Reuben I am going to come down there with a full head of steam, that I have some goals, and one—while it didn’t yet have a name— was ‘Hairdressers at Heart.’ It had to be funded, and we had to get behind it as a company. Seeing it come to life has meant everything to me.”
“Hairdressers at Heart” offers tangible support for hairdressers at every stage of their career with scholarships, mentoring, discounted childcare service and grants for funding hairdresserchosen charities and causes.
“We must lead from the front and lead by example,” Sementilli says. In mentoring Team ICAN, a group of young stylists, he says, “I tell them, ‘The bestlooking hairdresser does not win the race. Showing up on time, paying it forward, being consistent, sharing your weaknesses and strengths—these create the best hairdressers in the world.”