Italian culture has majorly impacted and shaped the modern world. Some of history’s most beloved paintings, musical compositions and fashion houses have been born from this wonderfully passionate culture, a culture that is both hard to ignore, and easy to love.
My father’s side is Italian, and they are all exactly as you’d expect: incredibly boisterous, intelligent, sarcastic, loving … the list goes on. But what I find I love most, aside from their passion, is their family-centric attitude. There is a warmth that comes with Italian families, a sort of hilarity and insanity that can only exist among people who know and love each other so well.
This vibrance is exactly what you feel when you walk into Sorelli Hair Studio & Spa. The studio’s name “Sorelli” is the Italian word for “sister,” implying a family business. Rose Cally and Grace Ruano – the sisters and owners of Sorelli – are filled with as much love for their salon staff as they are their own families. I met up with the pair, along with Cally’s daughter Julianna Cally, to talk about their business and of course, their fierce devotion to their large family.
They began by sharing that hair care has been in their family for generations.
“[Our] mom’s family were all hairdressers,” shared Cally. Their mother went to beauty school and their grandfather owned a barber shop. “He actually used to cut Yogi Berra’s hair, and the Yankees,” Cally said. “Even our mom’s cousin in Florence owns a salon.”
As the sisters grew up in salons and barber shops, they found a love for hair at a young age. Cally shared that Ruano has been doing hair since high school, joking that, “she got her cosmetology license in one hand and her diploma in the other.”
It wasn’t until Cally moved to Florida and had her kids that she got her cosmetology license. Ruano moved down from New York to be closer to her niece and nephew and started looking for work in barber shops. However, because barber shops in Florida are much different than those in New York, Cally convinced her sister to start looking into salons. She said, “Just try it, and if you don’t like it, you can go work at a barber shop.” Of course, Ruano thrived in the salon environment and the two eventually opened their own salon: Sorelli Hair Studio & Spa.
When it first opened, Sorelli was a small salon located on US1. The space consisted of three units, which was too big for the sisters at that time. They signed the lease anyway, and only worked out of one of the units. It wasn’t long until nail techs and massage therapists started knocking on their door wanting to join the team. With the available space, Sorelli began to expand, and before they knew it, all three units were up and running. They very quickly outgrew the space that was once too big for them and moved to their Suntree location.
The clientele continues to grow every year, and to celebrate almost a decade in business, the sisters have been busy renovating their studio. Cally, Ruano and the rest of their family have worked tirelessly over the past few months to brighten the studio, reupholster chairs, change the mirrors, freshen up the paint and just about everything else that comes with running a successful business. The salon now feels more modern and is as picture perfect as the clients who come and go.
Having experienced Sorelli myself, I am certain that their success is due not only to their talent, but to the atmosphere they have created. “We wanted to make it, not so corporate but more of a family environment where the staff and clients feel comfortable,” said Cally.
“We’re very family-oriented, whether it’s home or at work … that’s just how we are,” continued Cally. “That’s how we feel about our clientele, that’s how we feel about our family, that’s how we feel about our staff …”
“… when you grow up in a big Italian family and have dinners every Sunday, it’s something you can’t turn away from, and it follows you through every avenue of life,” said Julianna Cally.
Julianna Cally continued to share that the well-being of the salon’s employees is a top priority to the family. They go out of their way to create strong relationships with the staff and help support them through whatever it is they might be going through. Of course, she continued to share that this can be difficult at times, as they have to remember that there should be some separation between owner and employee, but as Ruano so simply put, “they’re our family.”
“You’re always wanted, you’re always loved and there’s always a place to go,” continued Julianna Cally.
The love that this family has for their business and those who work there is palpable. As a client, I love walking into a salon where stylists are laughing with each other and their clients. It makes for a more comfortable environment and, as anyone who has ever watched “Steel Magnolias” knows, the right salon can be the place where you share and experience so many of life’s biggest moments. Cally and Ruano have captured that with Sorelli.
I enjoyed my time with Cally and her daughter and Ruano, as it reminded me so much of time spent with my own family. Italians have a saying: “Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire.” This means, “No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home.” Cally and Ruano are a living representation of this phrase.