Ready To Kick Some Brass? We Chat With Tonal Balance Creator Faye Petti
It's not like we're telling you something you didn't already know, but there is SO much beauty talent in the Sunshine State. Yay us! Floridians are scrappy, and crafty and smart. We git 'er done - and then we scamper off for cocktails and a little beach action...
Boca-based Faye Petti is emblematic of this go-for-it, gung-ho FL spirit. She discovered a real pain in the ass Florida Beauty Problem - brassiness - and decided to fix-it with a sharp-looking line of shampoos and shine treatments called Tonal Balance.
There's a pic of Faye below, as well as a shot of the entire Tonal Balance collection.
Now let's dive into our Q+A with this self-professed "hair color nerd":
FBP: Tell us about your Florida roots. Are you a native?
PETTI: I'm originally from Newtown, PA, a suburb northeast of Philadelphia. My parents split up when I was 10 and my dad moved to south Florida to be closer to his parents and siblings, who had all relocated down here. So I spent a lot of time in south Florida growing up. I loved the beach and the weather.
When it came time for college, I could get state tuition for Pennsylvania as well as Florida. Florida was a no-brainer. I went to FAU.
FBP: When did you realize you wanted to be a hairstylist? What drove that decision?
PETTI: I grew up riding horses, and to pay my board, at age 13, I started shampooing at a salon near my school. I shampooed and assisted through high school. I loved the fast pace of the salon and the people I worked with. I knew when I started that this is what I wanted to do, but I did really well in school and it was expected that I would go to college.
While I was in college I worked as a receptionist at a salon in Boca where I would meet the salon family that I still, to this day, work with 16 years later. James Monaco was the salon manager and he and I ran the desk. He would later open Salon Monaco, and told me to go beauty school and he would give me a chair.
FBP: Where did you go to beauty school? What was that experience like for you?
PETTI: I went to the American Institute here in south Florida. One of my mentors at Monaco told me you learn about hair in beauty school, and then you learn to do hair after. I found that to be 100 percent true. You learn the chemistry and composition of hair in school, and then you learn your craft working with your mentors.
When I was in beauty school I was also bartending and managing the bar at Gigi's in Boca. I went to school five days a week and was behind the bar five nights. It was a crazy year but totally worth it!
FBP: Are you primarily a colorist now? Where did you get your real training in color?
PETTI: Yes, I would say so. I love the problem-solving that comes with coloring hair. It's challenging but extremely rewarding. I'm a hair color nerd - I love chemistry. I've taken every Goldwell and Schwarzkopf class out there, plus the hair shows, most recently the Beauty Coach tour by 901 Academy.
But the real education came from my Salon Monaco family. When I came out of school I had these incredibly talented people just waiting to see me succeed. I was already so comfortable with them. I asked a lot of questions!
FBP: Are there any big-league, internationally famous colorists you admire?
PETTI: My idols are Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee from 901. They do just really pretty hair, the kind of color I like to do - natural, young, fresh. I also like Guy Tang and Rebecca Taylor's work, but there aren't too many women in east Boca who come in asking for unicorn hair!
FBP: In the public eye, who do you think has great hair? And who would you love to get in your chair for a do-over?
PETTI: I love Julianne Hough's hair. Riawna Capri is her stylist. Living for her as a redhead right now!
As for a do-over, pretty much every Housewife on Bravo who has extensions. Most of them are so bad it drives me nuts.
FBP: How long were you kicking around the idea for Tonal Balance before you mustered the courage to just dive in and do it?
PETTI: I'd say three months. When I realized there was no green product for my dark-haired clients I became obsessed. The idea to do a line of "take-home toners" kind of evolved from there.
FBP: What was you biggest hurdle in developing the range?
PETTI: The whole thing was pretty challenging. I had never started a company before. I had to do the import packaging, do research and development, create a website, and manufacturing is kind of a nightmare. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart!
PETTI: Oh man, Joe is amazing.
The week I had the idea for the product line, my client Ricki came in for highlights. She said she was going to New York for a hair and skincare convention, and was telling me she was hoping to get a killer goody bag. I asked what she was doing at the convention, and she said worked for her dad's company, which sells the raw materials used in beauty products. I said, "That's so weird, because I have an idea for a product line."
Ricki said she knew a chemist who worked for John Frieda. Fast-forward a couple of months. I develop my business plan, and reach out to Ricki for the chemist connection. Insert the man, the myth, the legend - Dr. Joe Cincotta.
This is what my mom would call a "God wink." Joe created Sheer Blonde, which is the best-selling purple shampoo ever, as well as Frizz-Ease and some of the incredible products from Color Wow. There is no one who knows more about developing these pigmented products than him. On top of being a genius, he is the nicest man on the planet. He fell into my lap and I am so incredibly grateful for him.
FBP: What are the best-sellers in Tonal Balance so far? Can even color virgins benefit from using the shampoos for their hair hue?
PETTI: The purple is definitely the bestseller as of now. Blondes know about purple products from their first set of highlights in high school. I'm trying to get the word out there to all the dark-haired ladies that there's a product to keep their hair brass-free as well, with green.
ANTI-BRASS works on virgin hair, for sure. Even natural hair color gets brassy!
FBP: Are you still active on the salon front? Or are you focused on Tonal Balance full-time?
PETTI: I'm still full-time at the salon, and running Tonal Balance - and I have a two-year-old and a three-year-old. My dance card is full! But I love my job and I wouldn't have it any other way. As Tonal Balance grows I'll have to start cutting back on my hours behind the chair, but I don't think I could ever give it up completely.
FBP: Why is brassiness such a big ol' Florida Beauty Problem?
PETTI: Hands down the biggest "Florida beauty problem" I see time and time again is haircolor oxidizing and becoming brassy. My clients leave the salon loving their color and by the time they make it back, the beautiful balayage they left with is hardly recognizable.
That's why I created ANTI-BRASS and started Tonal Balance. I wanted to create a product that was as close to a salon "toning gloss" as possible.
FBP: Well thank you for making us Florida chicks a lot more beautiful! We at FBP wish you massive success with Tonal Balance.