In Rochester Magazine's inaugural issue, Stefania Buonomo described how her beloved father, Cosmo, motivated her to move to New York City and work at Federic Fekkai's famed Upper East Side salon.
"[In 1997], I wanted to make a lot of money for my dad...buy him a car and send him away on vacations," she said then.
Cosmo had moved here from his native Italy and, after divorcing, he raised Stefania and her sister Marianna.
In New York City, Stefania was soon styling the likes of Christie Brinkley and Melania Knauss (aka Mrs. Donald Trump). But after several years, she was ready to return home. Early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Buonomo left her lower East Side apartment for Rochester. She kept the radio off during the drive, so she had no idea what was happening back at the World Trade Center.
"When I got to my dad's house, he was crying," she recalled. "He hugged me and said, 'I knew you'd be OK.' "
She was thrilled to be back home, with him. But a few months later, Cosmo was diagnosed with lung cancer and died.
Today, Buonomo's love is 4-year-old daughter Sofia, whom she co-parents with her former partner, artist Kurt Ketchum.
"She's a ball of light," she says of Sofia. "I learned a great deal about love from being my father's daughter, but loving Sofia is a whole other level of love. Nothing could have prepared me for this joy."
Metro Salon, which she had opened less than two years before we first met up with her, is thriving today. She has hired more stylists over the years. And the 100-percent organic, aromatic skin care line she was creating at the time with aromatheraphy expert Michael Scholes now lines a wall in the salon. It's called MIMO 7, a combination of her father's nickname and his favorite number.
Her work schedule has changed dramatically with Sofia's arrival.
"I changed the infrastructure. I leave every day at 4:30 p.m.," she says. "I want to be home to give her a bath, read her a book. These are crucial moments. I have the ability to do this. There are a lot of mothers who can't. I'm grateful every day … With Sofia, I won the lottery."
It also helps that Ketchum is a "very hands-on dad."
And Buonomo's own dad—the reason she returned to Rochester—lives on in an unseen way.
"I know love because of my dad," Buonomo says. What does she think her father would say to Sofia if he were alive? "He'd tell Sofia, 'There's nothing you can't do.' He would empower her. He'd say, 'Whatever you want to do, Sofia, you can do it.' "
Profile of MIMO7 SKINCARE, Metro's 100% all-natural, small-batch skincare line
ROCHESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL (JAN, 2011)
To read the article "The Spiritual Side of Beauty" click: HERE
ROCHESTER MAGAZINE (NOV.--DEC. 2010)
UNVEILING THE BEST OF ROCHESTER
We asked experts, writers, colleagues and in-the-know friends to find some of the best that Rochester has to
offer. And we looked in some less-common categories, to try to get beyond the usual suspects.
LOCALLY DESIGNED SKIN CARE LINE
Stefania Buonomo, owner of Metro Salon, just added her own natural skin care line of cleansers, tonics, masques and creams to her salon. MIMO7 (that would would be the nickname of her late father and his lucky number) includes ingredients like oat bran, bee pollen, seaweed powder, glacial clay and essential oils.
For more info on MIMO7, please visit our Products page.
PREMIERE ISSUE OF ROCHESTER MAGAZINE JULY-AUGUST 2005 - NANCY O'DONNELL
stylist Stefania Buonomo left Rochester in 1997 for one reason. “I
wanted to make a lot of money to help out my dad. I wanted
to buy him a car and send him away on vacations.”
Cosmo Buonomo, once a marble cutter in his native Italy, had put in long
years as a mechanic at Gleason Works, and Stefania worried about his
She headed to New York and landed a job at Frederic Fakkai’s Upper
East Side salon, a rarefied world of the $365 haircut and glitterati
clientele—Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Debra Messing, Uma Thurman
and others. As the apprentice, Buonomo learned to read the cryptic signals
of the master stlylists. “ Sometimes it wasn’t even in words,” she said as she lifted
her arm, imitating a sudden dramatic gesture that translated to, “Blow-dry
long straight hair perfectly flat.”
Soon Buonomo was tending the waves of supermodel Melania Knauss (now
Mrs. Trump III) and Christie Brinkley, sprucing up Maury Povich, executing
precision snips to Regis Philbin’s nape, escorting Duran Duran
lead singer Simon Le Bon to just the right bottle of apple cider clarifying
shampoo. By May 1998, she was making house calls to the likes of Rosie
O’donnell, who watched on TV as she won an Emmy (the cut was temporarily
suspended for victory cries).
Styling wasn’t all. Buonomo also had to look the part. “I
had to be an example of how people want to look,” Buonomo said. “But
I couldn’t afford the Prada or Tod.” One client wanted to
know where Buonomo got her top. “I didn’t want to tell her,
but she kept asking, ‘Where did you get that great top?’ I
told her I couldn’t remember, and the next thing I know she’d
jumped up and grabbed the neck of my shirt so she could read the label.
The she asked, ‘What’s H & M?’”
But one day, Buonomo had an epiphany. “I was walking across the
street to buy bottled water, and within the 10 feet I walked, I was surrounded
by an ambulance siren, a jackhammer, four cars beeping and a fire truck
racing by. I was literally shaking by the time I crossed the street,
and that was it. I decided I had to leave.”
She flew to Costa Rica to study aromatherapy. When she returned, she
decided to come back to Rochester.
She packed up her lower East Side apartment, a few blocks from the World
Trade Center, and started driving early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
The whole way, she never turned on the radio. “When I got to Dad’s
house he was crying,” she recalled. “He hugged me and said, ‘I
knew you’d be okay.’”
After the shock of 9/11, Stefania was happy to be living with the man
she calls the love of her life. But within a few months, her father would
be diagnosed with lung cancer. A few months after that, he died.
“I never felt so alone and desperate,” she said. Once again she
took to the road. She traveled to Colorado, worked with spiritual teachers, fasted
and meditated. Then she returned to Rochester, deciding this time to stay.
Today, Stefania is the owner of Metro Salon on Gibbs Street, where she
works with her sister Marianna—“something my father always
wanted”, she said. She plans to mix a little of Manhattan’s
edge with a holistic approach she developed out of the experience of
her father’s death and her spiritual journeys. She has learned
that beauty isn’t just about the right cut. “It’s all
about feeling good inside, to feel good by connecting. Since, I’ve
come home, I’m connecting.”
CITY NEWSPAPER - 2004 BEST OF ROCHESTER CRITICS' CHOICE - JENNIFER
I know you’re hot. You know you’re hot. But how
to show everyone else how very hot you really are? Go see
Stefania. She used to handle celebrity hair in New York City
with Frederick Fekkai and she moved here recently to be closer
to her family. Fred’s loss is our gain. At Stefania’s
sleek, relaxed Metro Salon on Gibbs Street, you can get a
cosmopolitan look at a hometown price. Plus the music selection—from
Dolly Parton to the Flock of Seagulls and beyond—even
has those Eastman School kids talking.