Today I'd like to introduce you to this super gorgeous babe! This is Stephanie Mattina, a hairstylist at Nova Salon in Maplewood. Born and raised in Saint Louis, Stephanie has two spoiled mutts named Bootsie and Mable with her husband (Corey of Strange Donuts fame). Outside of working on hair, she likes traveling, cooking, eating, pizza, beer, seeing live music, and watching PBS in her pajamas.
I shot over some questions just like I did with designer Ryan Moore. Stephanie graciously answered all of them with her fun flare, and I hope you have a great time learning more about Stephanie, what drives awesome hairstylists, and looking at silly photos of my getting a trim!
SOSM: What first interested you in hair?
SM: Ever since I was about 5 years old hair fascinated me and I knew I wanted to be a professional. My parents said they would pay for cosmetology school only if I tried college at a University for 1 year. I finished out my freshman year and at that point I positive about what I wanted to do. While looking into cosmo schools in the St. Louis area, nothing really excited me. After researching other options, I landed on Vidal Sassoon in Los Angeles. I went out for a visit and interview, was accepted and hightailed it out west. That year was a whirlwind of amazing opportunity. I learned from some of the most talented haircutters and colorists in the business and spent 10 months intensively learning "The Sassoon Way". After graduating, I set out to hone my skills by taking an apprenticeship with Melinda Rodriguez in Chicago. I shampooed her clients until my skin cracked, watched her do hundreds of perfectly executed haircuts and swept up all the hair that fell to the floor. I had 2 days of class every week where she critiqued my every move. Finger position, standing position, partings, etc. Oftentimes my day ended in tears because she was hard on me (she didn't tolerate tears, so had to cry when I got home). Although this seems like a terrible way to start my career, I could not be more grateful to her. She taught me how to crate my own signature and was tough on me because she knew what I was capable of. She always made sure her employees were taken care of, taught me how to be successful, confident and independent. I'll be forever grateful for her mentorship. I worked on the floor for awhile as a haircutter until my husband (then boyfriend) was offered a job in St. Louis. We moved back and the rest is history.
SOSM: How long have you been doing hair?
SM: 9 years.
SOSM: What do you love most about your current salon?
SM: Literally everything. I work with the greatest people. Everyone is extremely skilled, creative and respectful. We inspire each other, assist one another and collaborate often. We take advanced classes frequently and throw some kickass parties too! It feel so zen while working because of the atmosphere Paul and Ricca (Nova's owners) have created both design and philosophy wise. Everyone who sits in my chair comments on how much they love the open, airy and clean setting. It's also very neutral, so both men and women feel comfortable walking through our doors. We attract a diverse and contemporary clientele. Nova turns out solid, beautiful work which speaks for itself, so THAT is our advertisement since we don't do any traditional marketing.
SOSM: Do you have a favorite hairstyle to cut?
SM: The box bob. It's the ultimate test of cutting a perfectly straight line with precision and accuracy.
SOSM: What was your most challenging client request that you can recall?
SM: I would say the most challenging hair requests are the ones that can't be accomplished in 1 session. A lot of people will show us a picture with the expectation of getting it all done in one fell swoop. I hate to disappoint, but sometimes hair goals cannot reached in 1 appointment. So that, and when someone comes in with a bad haircut and wants it fixed without losing any length.
SOSM: Who is your go-to stylist for inspiration?
SM: Oh man... too many to name. Off the top of my head @tracisak_hair, @zgat_mm, @gummybeats1, @thearronjohnson, Tim Hartley, Stacey Broughton and of course Mr. Sassoon.
SOSM: Do you have a secret weapon hair care product you think everyone should own?
SM: Your secret weapon should be your stylist. A haircut should be the style, then accentuated or controlled by product. But seriously- leave-in conditioner is often overlooked, but SO crucial to healthy polished hair.
SOSM: If you could style anyone's hair in the world, who would you choose?
SM: Amy Poehler so she could make me laugh until my guts hurt.
SOSM: Do you have any hair regrets from your past? Silly styles, bad color jobs?
SM: None. I feel like my path has led me to where I am today and I'm happy. In the next few years, I hope to offer affordable haircutting classes in St. Louis for those eager to keep learning.
Stephanie also wanted to add in that if anyone is interested in entering the cosmetology world and has questions, or if there's a stylist out there who needs guidance, she is all ears. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for getting to know Stephanie with me! I have some pretty cool followup photos to post as well - all about my experience getting my hair totally chopped! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you'll likely already know that my hair is pretty dang different... Stay tuned for that post!
Photos by Abby Gillardi.