Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
BY Francesca Rizzo — Class of 2014
When people think of a tough job, ones that require a lot of physical labor and exhausting hours come to mind. Policemen, fire fighters and other service workers are all occupations that are considered intensely laborious. However, there is one job that many people would be shocked to even consider physically demanding or exhausting. Spend a day in the shoes of Mary Ferrauilo, and you’re guaranteed to be surprised.
“I’m a cosmetologist,” she beams proudly. “Most people wouldn’t stop and think twice about how hard being a hairdresser actually is. It’s surprising, even to me. You’re always moving around up on your feet with your arms up doing someone’s hair. You work long hours based on the appointments you book. I’d consider it both physical and tiring.”
It doesn’t seem to faze Ferrauilo at all. “I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and it never fails to be both fun and tiring. But I wouldn’t change what I do for the world.”
Neither would her clientele, surpassing almost 200 people.
“Mary is honestly a cosmo-genius,” one of her clients, Rachel, said. “She’s always thinking ahead and creating new styles. I’ve been coming to Mary for as long as we’ve been friends. I’ll never go to anyone else.”
For Ferrauilo, her decision to become a hair stylist was made at a very young age. Living in Rochester, New York, her clientele is constantly expanding to different towns and counties all across upstate New York. Ferrauilo attributes her desire to become a cosmetologist to her family. Her grandfather, Salvatore Ricotta, came to America from Italy and created his own salon that is still up and running today.
“I grew up watching my grandpa and two of my aunts doing hair. I used to play with the roller sets while they worked. I knew I wanted to do hair just like my family,” she reminisces.
Ferrauilo began training as a cosmetologist at the tender age of sixteen. “I started taking classes and working towards my license. I attended The Foreman Center in Fairport, New York. A bus would take me and the other girls to my class straight from school to cosmetology,” she explained.
This is where Ferrauilo began to learn the basics, from how to properly wash and dry hair to basic blow-drying and up-do styles. “It just came so naturally to me,” she said with a smile. “Before I knew it, girls from my school were asking me to do up-dos and trim their bangs.”
After realizing that this was the career path for her, Ferrauilo took her vision of the cosmetology business into her own hands. At 17, she was cutting, highlighting and dyeing the hair of her slowly, but steadily growing clientele in her own basement.
“I had a basic set up in my basement. I had a sink, a chair, and my scissors. It’s all I really needed,” she explained.
Being an athlete also helped Ferrauilo expand her basic clientele. Cheering for Upstate New York’s North East Elite, she had the opportunity to style her squad’s hair for big competitions.
“I remember I was curling one of my friend’s hair and as we were talking, an idea for a slogan hit me, and it’s stuck ever since,” she laughs. “HaiirByMare. Make sure you get the second ‘i’,” she added with a smirk.
With a steady and growing clientele and a new name for her personal business, Ferrauilo continued to remain at the head of her class in cosmetology. By the time she was 18, her required 1,000 hours of work experience had been long completed, and her advanced year of cosmetology came to a close. The next step was finding a place of employment.
“Luckily, that was pretty easy for me to find. I started working at my grandpa’s salon, which is now owned and run by his daughter (my aunt). It helped me prepare for my practical and written exam,” Ferrauilo says.
After passing both exams with flying colors, Ferrauilo was almost immediately offered another job at a bigger salon. But, with relocation came the possibility of a loss of clientele.
“I was offered a job at Regis Salon. I was nervous because I didn’t want to lose my clients. But, come to find out, most of my clients were traveling farther to get to the salon I was working at first! All of my clients followed me to Regis. It was a great place for me to grow.”
“Honestly, Mary is the best thing that’s happened to my hair,” admits another client of hers. “It’s never been healthier, not to mention trendier.”
Now, at the age of 22, Ferrauilo has been referred to clients all across upstate New York. People travel as long as they have to in order for her to style and take care of their hair.
“It’s so worth it,” another client, Samantha said. “I drive 45 minutes to an hour just for a trim or highlight. I don’t trust anyone else with my hair. No one else does hair quite like Mare!”
“I love the response I get from my clients,” Ferrauilo said happily. “I get referrals and walk-ins that remain with me and make up my fabulous and reliable clientele. I specialize in color and up-dos.” Specializing in color is one way to put it.
“I walked in to the salon one day, and Mary goes, ‘Hey, I’ve got this really cool new dye. Wanna give it a shot on your hair?’” laughs Rachel, a longtime client of Ferrauilo’s. “I looked at her and was like ‘….well, sure!’ Mary always knows what to do, so I knew she wouldn’t put anything in my hair that would make it look bad. I walked out of the salon that day with my dark hair, but with streaks of hot pink and purple. Sounds crazy, but it looked amazing. People couldn’t stop complimenting me and asking me where I got my hair done.”
“She’s basically revolutionized and brought trends and styles to her area,” Samantha adds. “People come to her asking for the craziest styles. We’ll print of pictures we find online and are like ‘Do you think you can do this?’ Mary will take one look at it and go, ‘Duh!’”
The up-do style has been one of Ferrauilo’s favorite things to practice. She has mastered the art, using her skills to prepare people for events from high school proms to big weddings.
For Mary Ferrauilo, doing hair is not just an occupation, but a lifelong passion. Growing up in a family that is immersed in the cosmetology industry, Ferrauilo had no problem finding her place and expanding her clientele over the years.
“I love doing hair so much,” she says. “You always hear people say, ‘If you love what you do then you never work a day in your life’. I didn’t understand how true that was until I became a professional cosmetologist.”