NY’s “fake it til’ you make it” mentality has spread like a virus all the way through my beloved NJ. Now, in NJ’s everyday culture, there are a lot of things that I would call flashy, overkill, extreme, or extravagant. Cars, hairstyles, accessories, celebrations, parties, relationships, explanations, restaurants, etc. So, when Shelli forwarded me an email about this new “upscale salon catering to men” in Livingston, NJ, that also claimed to be environmentally conscious, I was skeptical. After a few e-mails, I set up a tour and an interview with a manager. They are kind enough to fit me in for a manicure too. The day arrives. I try to stay in journalist mode. I’ve done a little research on the owners and their other spot, but I’m still a little worried because part of the magic of the internet is that it can make any place and everyone look good. I pull up and it looks just like the picture. The building stands out among its surroundings but with its clean lines it looks … square. I take a lap around the back of the building before I park. I don’t see any AC units. Why is this important? Because they promote a space for a rooftop lounge. If they put some patio furniture next to the massive, noisy AC units … that’s not a lounge … it’s just patio furniture on the roof! So now, I’m super suspect. But then I walk in … I’m impressed. The place is clean. Not just regular clean. This spot is like fresh out the box clean. And instead of the loud frantic energy that accompanies many men’s salons, there is a masculine serenity about the space. The clean design of the outside matches the modernist design of the space. The subtle mix of line and curve in the furnishing combined with cool, interactive colors make the glow of the sunshine the first “Welcome” as you enter. Then, I was greeted with what felt like a sincere, “Hello, how can we help you,” accompanied with an honest smile. I lowered my wall.
One of the hostesses took my jacket and offered a beverage (coffee, expresso, tea, water … or wine). Another introduced me to Maria. Maria was my manicurist. Now, I like manicures. I can be kinda critical about them. I’ve had a few. Maybe more than a few. Some good. Some average. An occasional great one. As I’m soaking my cuticles, I strike up some conversation and find out that Maria has been doing manicures for 8 years and us obviously a professional. She pulls out the freshly sterilized gear and then … then she proceeds to give me the best manicure that I’ve ever had. Now, I’ve had manicures in 9 different states and overseas … so what made this one so good? There was no mental or physical discomfort. She not only took the time to look at my hands, view the shape of my fingers and nails, but she also invested a few seconds to touch them before she started and it made a difference. Then, after the manicure, the exfoliating hand massage was exceptional. It wasn’t just rubbing my hands and forearm with some goop. It was a real massage. I watched her eyes as she focused on my hands and responded accordingly to my points of tension. Not only did she really know what she was doing, she was invested in making my experience a pleasurable one. AND … she didn’t ask me if I wanted some damn clear polish! Over the next week, I found myself looking at my hands. They looked and felt great!
After the manicure, the owner Paul Gaglioti was kind enough to give me a tour of the space. He explains to me that he started sweeping up salons at 19. Now, 4 decades later, with Dieci Uomo, he and his partner (his wife Marie), have jumped ahead of the trend to create an incredible space for gentleman to reward themselves.
The world class salon has a spa on site, with semi-private manicure rooms and private pedicure and waxing rooms. Their state of the art massage rooms house independently controlled sound systems to customize your experience on the upper level. Also on this level is the “Outdoor Lounge.” Paul and I walk outside and stroll past a few guys kicked back on lounge chairs, sipping on some scotch while they enjoy the day’s mild weather. He opens a discrete door and shows me the AC units that I was looking for earlier. Now I get it. Not only are they hidden behind 4 walls, but he explains that the space which houses them is designed to isolate and disperse the noise created by the whirling units, so as not to disrupt patrons’ lounge experience. With plans to add a full bar, (possibly a humidor?), as well as additional seating and shading, I’ll definitely be back to partake in the rooftop festivities! *(They are starting weekly events on the rooftop as the weather gets nice!)
Oh, and the environmental aspect of the building isn’t a vanity item. This is the real thing! The intent to create a clean look and parallel it with a clean building was successful. A LEED energy certification makes this more than official. This may be the only LEED certified men’s salon in the state. A variety of high tech components infused within its infrastructure that assist with water circulation and energy efficiency truly enhance the experience. In addition to the recycled materials used in the buildings structure, low tech components such as super fresh sinks created from cement and broken bottles are one of the many highlights of the space. My green side got really geeky in our interview and I have a bunch of info about it, but you can check out their Environmental Commitment Brochure here. The other component that makes a man spa experience special is the hospitality of the staff. As we spoke, Paul made it clear that the Dieci Uomo experience was far superior to having a haircut in a swanky salon with a few big screens and staff dressed like waitress from Hooters. There were some big screens, and there were both make and female staff members. Paul stated that he considers his employees his professional family. He hires staff that are committed to the work of serving people, not just stylist, technicians or masseuse that are looking for a gig. He has been determined to create a team who is interested in learning how to best serve others. They are educated locally and internationally on the latest techniques and technology in hair and spa services. What I find interesting is that even with the international diversity in the staffing that mirrors the United Nations, there is still a very old school Jersey feel to the place. No … not Tony Soprano gangster like Jersey. More mom and pops store, show respect to everyone, speak to your neighbors not only because you know them but also because you know that their being safe means you and yours are safe too! Tactfulness, professional knowledge, a sense of community, progressive visioning, environmental consciousness and great customer service … this leads to a spa treatment that I am sure is amazing. Yes … This is really the real thing. SO … if you live near Livingston, NJ and have a Significant Other that would appreciate the comforts of a spa experience … Or a man in your life that deserves a little something special … or are a dude that gets tired of the regular barbershop experience and wants a nice spot to get a fresh cut or shave … OR are a groom that wants a spot to get all your dudes together and get fresh & clean for your wedding … check it out! I’m going back in about a week to get a cut and a shave! (*They also have these 6 and 12 month membership program that allow for UNLIMITED haircuts, express manicures, shoe shines and discounts on retail products! They have an entire line of men’s grooming products that I will expound upon in another post!) I’m reminded that sometimes there is a thin line between something that is cool and something that catches your eye because of a flashy presentation. Oftentimes the difference is intent. The Gaglioti’s have matched intent with both form and function. Dieci Uomo is the real thing, a full service salon and spa designed for men. It really is a cool spot! Swing by to check it out … or set up an appointment …
48 West Northfield Rd
Livingston, NJ 07039
or their sister spa (Shelli said that it’s really nice!)
90 West Mt. Pleasant Ave
Livingston, NJ 07039
So, yeah … in the end, Dieci Uomo (and New Jersey) restored my hope in the goodness, honesty, and beauty of people wanting to help other people. I walked out feeling so good that I forgot my coat! So, I went back in and grabbed my jacket, then headed to the car. As I walked, I thought … “Yeah, I’ll be back.” But wait, there’s more … AND … because this is my new favorite song … and it matches the sharing and giving sentiment of this post … straight from the Muppets Most Wanted …
I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu) by Brett McKenzie
*yes … Even Kermit knows what natural hair lovers want … at 1:20 he says “You want a satin pillow? I’ll give it to you!”