Al Shamas, owner of Dolce Vita salon with his mentor and master stylist Frank De Bartolo by his side
Story Laurie Wallace-Lynch Photo Steve Uhraney
Heads turn when handsome, buff Al Shamas struts into his salon, Dolce Vita Medical Salon in Port Credit. Always positive and quick to smile, today Al has some extra pep in his step; he is sharing the news that his mentor, master stylist Frank De Bartolo, has come out of retirement to help Al in his posh Mississauga salon.
“Having Frank back feels so amazing,” says Al. “I thought I had learned everything I could way back when, but I am still learning from him. No matter how much a person knows, there is always something they can learn from other people, especially from a master stylist like Frank.”
Giving Frank a friendly tap on the back, Al grins ear to ear and adds: “He’s still the boss!”
It’s easy to see why Al demonstrates some idolatry when it comes to his hero and mentor, Frank De Bartolo. Not only is Frank’s bio filled with pages of accomplishments (Examiner for the Ontario Government at George Brown College of Hairdressers, official hairdresser of Mrs. Mississauga Beauty Pageant, judge of Miss All Canadian Beauty Pageant and the former co-host/producer of Beautiful You Show on Rogers Cable10 TV), Frank is a sought-after stylist trainer and workshop facilitator.
“I learned by watching the best—Robin Baker, Marc Anthony, John Donato, Johnny Cupello and Frederick Bumbcaca in Toronto,” Frank adds.
Frank owned Prelude Hair Design in Mississauga when young 17-year-old, Al Shamas first walked through his front door.
“Al came in off the street looking for a job,” explains Frank. “I like giving young people a chance so I hired him. He started out washing hair and then I took him under my wing, as I did others and trained and mentored him to be an amazing stylist. I knew Al was different—he had the same passion I do for the business.”
Born in Baghdad, Iraq, the son of a physicist, Al has lived in many countries including Egypt, Algeria, Italy and Spain. The Shamas family chose to settle in Mississauga where Al attended Thomas L. Kennedy Secondary School. It was his after-school job that sealed Al’s destiny to become a stylist and salon owner. Unfortunately Al’s dad did not agree and the father and son had a falling out that lasted five years before they reunited.
“Frank carried me for five years and made me who I am today,” says Al. “After attending George Brown I apprenticed with Frank who became my business partner. We have been in business since 1989. In 2005, I opened Dolce Vita—my very own spa and salon.”
Frank commutes from his home in Barrie two days a week to work at Dolce Vita and says he loves every minute of it. He and his wife have two children and four grandchildren.
“A lot has changed in the industry so if a stylist says there’s nothing new in the business—walk away!” laughs Frank. “It’s important to keep up with the trends. I attend the International Beauty Shows in New York and L.A. every year and keep up with what’s new.”
Al also keeps on top of the trends and adds: “Trends go in cycles and what are coming back are curls and perms. I have done more perms this summer than I have done in the last three years. These are the big loose curls that women
aged 25 to 35 are wanting, along with beachy waves. Keratin treatments are also hugely popular because they give you the curls without the frizz. Balayage, ombre and hair extensions are huge—we have natural hair extensions in every colour, brand and style.”
Aside from the 10 hair stations and a team of expert stylists, Dolce Vita fulfills a mind, body, soul experience with spa laser treatments like body contouring, hair removal and other spa treatments along with spray tanning.
Al is the best ad possible for his salon. He works out for an hour five days a week and has a positive attitude about just about everything. He and Frank combined have enough positive energy to light the salon without power!
“Dolce Vita—living the sweet life—it’s about being happy from within,” explains Al. “A beautiful cut; a treatment that makes you feel wonderful—all of this helps your confidence and makes you feel great inside and out and motivates you to do your best. There’s no limit to your destiny—I am living proof of that.” On that note, Al slips into his Maserati and is off to an appointment.
Dolce Vita Medical Salon is located at 1 Hurontario Street in Port Credit (Hurontario and Lakeshore), http://dolcevitamedicalspasalon.com
Article and Photo Republished with Permission by mississauga.com/goodlifemagazine from the Autumn 2017 issue.