Most people don’t think much about the acoustics of hair salons. We simply accept the cacophony of music, blow-dryers, loud voices, and jangling telephones. But catch Salon Maffei at the right moment, and you might be treated to the smooth stylings of owner Nick Trombetta when he takes a seat at his grand piano. If the mood strikes, “my fingers just play,” he says.
It’s fitting that the building Trombetta purchased to house his salon, a former bank in White Plains, features soaring theatrical ceilings and large chandeliers. “You walk in, and your head goes all the way back to look up,” he says. “Sometimes, I wheel the piano into the center of the room. There’s no electronics, no microphone, but the music carries throughout the space — it sounds like a recording studio.”
Trombetta began playing on a small keyboard and singing as a young boy in Avellino, Italy. When his father moved the family to the Bronx in 1970, he decided that piano lessons would help his son feel at home, even though money was tight. This kicked off a musical career that has involved study at conservatories and playing in various bands.
“Whatever I do, I shoot for the top.”
The artistically-minded Trombetta took an interest in hair color when his band began rehearsing in the basement of a salon. He decided to attend beauty school as a back up plan to his show business ambitions, but his career in hair quickly took off. His first job was at the (former) Vidal Sassoon salon in Manhattan. “Whatever I do, I shoot for the top,” Trombetta says.
Not surprisingly, Trombetta’s skill and attitude have taken him far. (He also credits his success to his wife Janeen, whom he calls his “greatest strength.”) He opened Salon Maffei in 2002, expanding to the current location four years ago, and also works as artistic director for international hair-color company Itely Hairfashion, a position for which he has traveled the world.
As for his music, Trombetta’s main focus now is writing songs that deliver messages. “Colorless” addresses racism and “Sticks and Stones” targets bullying, for example. Trombetta is also a wedding officiant, a certified scuba diver, has taken flying lessons, is working on a children’s book, and has written more than 285 letters of support and advice to his daughter, Nicole, now 15. “Life is exciting,” he explains. “Every day I open my eyes, and say, ‘Thank you, God. I’m going to do this again? All right — let’s go!’”
Freelance writer Gale Ritterhoff is a frequent contributor to 914INC.