This Matters To...Nic Romanoli
Art, beauty, and education are among the things that make the owner of Nico Spalon tick.
He’s transformed everyone from the elite of Morgantown to Lady Gaga’s grandmother. Nic Romanoli works to shine a light on people’s beauty, inside and out, whether he’s doing hair or taking photos.
For seven years, Nic has owned his salon on South Pierpont Road, and for much longer, has owned salons all across town. At Nico, his clients put all of their trust in him. “Not a lot of people are allowed to touch your hair. That’s a very personal space that we’re allowed into,” he says. Over the years, he learns a lot about his clients. “You become really close, and you do make transformations,” he says.
But Nic is also committed to the arts and education—his father, a school superintendent, drove that into him. “I quit college to become a hairdresser, but then I thought, ‘You know what? I don’t want to be the only uneducated one in my family.’ So I put myself through school at WVU, and to this day my salon is based on education. All of my staff are top platform artists, and it shows.” Nic takes pride in the Nico Advanced Academy at his salon, where students learn top techniques.
Nic got his big break after college. He’d done hair for a model from Sweden—a foreign exchange student—when she invited him to go to Europe. In his early 20s, he set out for the first time. She became Miss Sweden, and Nic was thrust into a world of glamour and high fashion. He took what he learned from top designers, hairdressers, and photographers, and he brought that back to Morgantown.
1. Beauty. “The Japanese symbol of beauty is what my whole salon is all about,” Nic says.
2. Hairspray. Nic has great names for products on sale at his salon—from sprays to gels. You can find products called Hold Me, Break Up, Stood Up, Foaming at the Mousse, Rock Hard, and more. “It’s a little bit wild,” he says.
3. Rosary beads. Nic uses rosaries to show gratitude. “I collect rosary beads. I think they’re beautiful, but also, almost like prayer beads, I say thanks for something for each bead, and there’s 59 of them. I really have a lot to be thankful for.” Nic has rosaries from Hawaii to the Middle East.
4. Chocolate and peanut butter are Nic’s guilty pleasures. “My clients at the salon are constantly bringing me chocolate. I can’t resist it.”
5. Camera. When Nic first started taking photos, people called his work controversial. In 1984, he photographed a university calendar of men that had people talking. “I’m kind of a cross between Nike—my work is very athletic—and Abercrombie. Bruce Weber is my idol photographer.”
6. These scissors actually say Nic, so naturally they’re his favorite. “Scissors have brought me all over the world. I carry my scissors everywhere. I cut hair one time at the Coliseum sitting on one of these little columns.”
7. Family is important to Nic and he cherishes their photos. He’s often photographed his mother and father holding hands. “That’s what family and love is about. It’s about being kind to each other.”
8. Spaghetti sauce. You can buy hairspray and spaghetti sauce at Nico. Figaretti’s is what Nic grew up on—it’s his grandmother’s recipe and it’s made in Wheeling. “It’s my second highest selling product.”
9. Butterfly. When Nic first went to the house that is Nico, he noticed it had butterfly bushes with butterflies all around. “In my business, I see a lot of transformations—people going from caterpillars to butterflies. I like that whole symbolization of transforming.”
10. The chair. “Every half-hour or 15 minutes, I have new people waiting for me. Someone comes in and someone comes out—there is always a new personality in my chair. They’re all very powerful women and men who have their own stories. It’s exciting.”