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The Questioning… Tom Zappala

April 27, 2011

My hairdresser is gorgeous. There, I said it. Going to make it a little awkward making my next appointment, but no matter.

However, there are some occupations in life where being aesthetically blessed isn’t enough, and ironically enough, hairdressing is one of them. It takes a long time to find a good hairdresser, and once you do, you hang onto them. Nothing quite like calling your salon and finding out your hairdresser’s moved on. Terror. Tom craftily set up a website to combat this years ago. Wherever he is, you’ll find him at I sleep well at night.

The room at the top of the stairs.

What makes him great? Well he’s a great conversationalist. It’s true, gives a good head massage, yep. Good style, sure. Perhaps the key is that he does some magic thing so that when your hair grows out, for the longest time, longer than should be expected, it looks as though it’s growing in. Just when you think you need a haircut you go no, actually, I like this. Sure there are bits that just can’t be graceful, like growing from anything above ears, to below ears, and for that season he, quite rightly, advised I wear a hat. And so I did.

I remember when Tom first got his own studio (tucked above a shop on Smith Street), the consideration that had gone into the fit out: the cutting chair swung so you could look out the window or into the mirror, one wall had a mural which constantly evolved and the music was always something awesome I had never heard. The walls have changed since then but the music is still excellent (and I’m still none-the-wiser). Anyway, enough about me, this week we’re questioning… Tom Zappala.

One view.

Question One:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Originally from Los Angeles, I spent a good chunk of my youth pursuing a career in music, only to one day trade my drum sticks in for scissors. I blame the 80’s long hair. Still wanting to be successful and not satisfied with leaving the rockstar lifestyle behind, I took to forging a career path that would lend itself well to the laid back, irreverent ideals of my youth… only less drunk and stoned. Nineteen years on, I’m geographically farther than anticipated, and still passionate about the craft I chose to pursue so many years ago… although the groupies are definitely getting a little older now.

Question Two:
Your approach to hairdressing is a little different – how so?

Throughout my career I’ve challenged the notion and difficulties with ‘collective’ hairdressing. A private hairdressing studio was the answer. By creating a distinct alternative to usual salon culture, the focus is able to rest solely with the client, while providing the environmental control that can change to suit the mood. Managing creative energy with a soundtrack fitting to each session is what makes it all flow.

Juggling 2-3 clients along with an apprentice or two doesn’t leave time to have a proper consultation, and is akin to visiting a bulk billing doctor. Dexterity and vision are indeed vital, however the ability and requirement to communicate and connect effectively is equally if not more important. A proper and thorough consultation is the key to success. Often I have the client stand during this time to visualise their height, posture, and presence. A well designed style can’t always be determined from standing behind the chair.

My success and approach with hairdressing is simple. I credit it to taking the time and having the desire to make my clients happy. That is all. It’s never about the drama, the latest celebrity bullshit, or what’s going to be hip next season, it’s about the individual. It’s about getting to know who they are so you can best fill their needs, and hopefully make them smile.

Question Three:
You can be any musician alive or dead for a day – who and why?

I’d be Gerald Clayton, a 26 year old, amazingly talented, Jazz pianist based out of New York. One particular evening out in LA, I had the opportunity to observe his playing in very close proximity and was instantly enthralled with the magnificent language pouring effortlessly from his fingers. His aggressive, yet beautifully nuanced and delicately expressive touch paints vivid images in my head every time I listen to his recordings. To have the ability to communicate that flow of creativity so effortlessly would be something I’d most certainly want to experience.

Charming, ain’t he? If you’re after a hairdresser, you’ll find him at Hair Upstairs

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2011 12:43 am

    how much does Tom charge?

    • LouPardi permalink*
      July 14, 2011 8:51 am

      Hi Bo

      I think it varies – $80 – $90 ish – but best to ask him.


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