When the state of emergency was at its peak in the Balearics, after everyone had cleared the shelves of home-baking ingredients, there was a mad rush for hair products with hair salons and barber shops closed, leaving many businesses wondering if they would be able to survive the shutdown and open again. Fortunately, for many the permission to reopen came just at the right time and now many hair salons are enjoying brisk business. But for many, such as Salon Vila, a family business run by Litsa Pantzikis, it was a close shave.
Litsa, who was also able to enjoy her birthday with friends and family yesterday, is originally from Greece but trained in Australia before moving to Majorca. Her father emigrated from Greece to Australia in the '60s and she was born in Melbourne but grew up in Greece. At the age of 16, she moved back to Australia where she completed a four-year apprenticeship in Melbourne which included work and studies.
Litsa lived in Australia for 18 years and that is where she met her Majorcan husband, Fernando Vila. He was travelling around Australia when they met and it was not long before she was running two salons in Melbourne, one of which was inside the Hilton Hotel where she got to cut and style the hair of numerous international celebrities and sports players.
“All the tennis players would get their hair done by me while playing the Australian Open. Pat Cash, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Carlos Moya and many more. I also styled Lenny Kravitz and Keanu Reeves while at the Hilton,” she told the Bulletin last week. And despite what people may read or impressions they have, none of my famous clients gave me any problems. All my clients were very nice and I don’t remember having any hard times with any of them.”
Now well established and happy in Majorca, she nevertheless misses Australia and Greece.
“I love Australia, most of my family lives there, including my brothers, but me and my husband always wanted to come to Majorca. We both always wanted to come back to Europe so we sold our house in Melbourne and came to Palma. My father is living in Greece and I wanted to be close to him. On arrival in Majorca, I started working in different salons around the island until I eventually opened my own in September 2018.
“My son Jordi was becoming a barber and I loved the idea of working together, so we searched for a suitable place and we found a wine bar right in the city centre. We made a few changes and it became a hair salon. In total there are three of us. Me, my son Jordi and our employee Marina, who is a very talented hairdresser who has worked with me in the past.
“My other son Ricardo works in online marketing for hotels. He has his own business but he also helps us with our social media and marketing at Salón Vila. It’s not easy, it needs a lot of work but the most important thing is the passion. I love my job, I have been doing it for the past 34 years and that makes it easier. We were doing well; business was strong until the pandemic hit. The state of emergency has been difficult. We closed the business before it was required because we thought a hair salon was not essential at that moment.
“Now we are working with all the security measures (gloves, masks, disinfecting before every client, appointments only, and other small measures), and we feel much more secure. At one stage my fear was having to shut the salon down because I wasn’t having any income and that was scary. Luckily the situation has improved since certain restrictions have been eased, especially here on the island.
“The business has changed because there are many new rules for the clients. They have to wait outside until we call them, they have to wash their hands when they come in and they have to wear a mask - which does make our jobs more complicated. Once we opened the salon, all our clients booked their appointment straightaway. We worked six days a week, ten hours every day to be able to get our clients’ hair ready again.
“But regarding the future, I think everyone is scared. If it’s not about health, it’s about economy, or both. Let’s just hope this nightmare ends soon. There’s not much of the old traditional salon gossip at the moment. Most of the clients are talking about the situation that we are living through. People just hope they can stay safe, maintain their jobs, and go back to normal soon.
“Apart from my team being talented, we’re multi-lingual. We all speak English so we are lucky to have people from all over the world. We have clients from England, Sweden, Germany, Australia...not to mention our local regulars. We are a family business, we have years of experience, and we use organic and top-range products like Kevin Murphy, and I like to think that our clients appreciate that, along with the warm welcome they all get. I think that’s extremely important in these times of uncertainty and concern we are having to live through.”