“Life is short, make each hair flip fabulous” is one of the many clever signs to get your attention out front of Deeva Hair salon in Kitchener.
The radio plays softly inside, where a few conversations can be heard, and quick switches of hair tools can be seen. There’s a small puppy that pops by to say hello, while one of the employees offers you a beverage.
Located inside a house at 83 Weber St. E. in Kitchener, Deeva provides continuously improving hair trends for always fabulous results.
“Just because we’re 1,000 square feet doesn’t mean we’re not a beast to be reckoned with,” said Shereen Doucette, who started her career after being a raving fan of the salon.
Where does the name come from? Diane Fortier, who goes by Dee. She got the nickname when she was an apprentice stylist, and has moved from competing in regional hairstyling competitions to those at the Allied Beauty Association and International Beauty Show.
“I thought about having Dee as a play on word for diva. That’s how I named my salon,” said Fortier, wearing big white-framed glasses, large hoop earrings and a slim-fitting black shirt.
She’s a true diva running things her way.
Fortier knew from a young age that hair was her passion. When she was a kid, she would style her Barbies’ hair.
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was unlikely the dream would come true. Back then, having your high school degree and getting a sustainable job was all one could hope for.
Not for Fortier, though.
Hair and continued education in hair-fashion was her one true passion and goal, “with my parents blessing.”
Now, she is a high-profile hairstylist, known internationally as she travels the world with Eufora, a hair-care company. She is the artistic director, and shares her passion in Eufora and continued education in all things hair, which is what inspires her to keep going.
“She has a handle on the business behind the scenes in a way that I’ve never seen in the industry before,” says Tasha Pinheiro, an employee of the salon.
Pinheiro describes Fortier as “so supportive, so knowledgeable,” and for being the reason she fell in love with the life of hair, behind the chair.
Aside from just being able to pursue their hair-craved passions, Fortier needed her team to understand one thing.
“There’s no I in team,” said employee Shereen Doucett, describing the main theme of Deeva.
She added, with soulful eyes, “We all have found that we all have strengths and weaknesses, but we bring out the best in each other. And this is an ever growing, evolving career.”
It wasn’t always a growing career though.
The first year of Fortier owning Deeva, she was paying rent to live upstairs of a house, and also paying to rent out the downstairs area of the house as a business space. It was but a year later that buying the property made sense.
However, she had her eyes opened to something that wasn’t taught in hairdressing school.
It was “a really big disappointment” learning how high taxes are.
“You don’t realize how much goes to the government and how much goes to every single aspect of keeping the doors open,” Fortier said.
She had to learn how to track the numbers, to make sure the profits coming in were higher than the expenses.
Fast forward 23 years, and Fortier uses that learning curve as the basis of continually moving forward.
Behind the scenes, every Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m., Deeva is closed in order to evaluate numbers and make sure members are meeting their goals, as well as giving advice on how to continue to build their clientele.
Aside from the numbers, Fortier’s key focus is always on learning, and doing what it takes to learn.
She has a collection of awards from competitions and nominations, ready at hand to show people her success.
All nine Deeva employees are educators, and part of being an educator is teaching, including through a competition mindset.
That’s why Deeva continues to be part of that area of the industry, by participating in competitions, whether by nominating themselves or by being asked to attend.
Keeping themselves on their toes like this provides the education needed to stay relevant in the ever-changing and advancing field.
“I was recommending and referring all the people because I finally found a place that gave me the haircut and colour that I wanted and also educated me about what I needed to maintain this (hair) at home,” Doucette said, reminiscing about her days as a customer at the salon.
So, what are the future plans for Deeva?
Fortier said she is going to continue to operate the home-base location for her employees, due to travelling schedules with competitions.
With that being said, big renovations are coming.
Fortier also said she plans on stepping down in a few years’ time to be able to focus more on her family, but will continue to be the chair of the business while continuing to look out for her work family and nurture her friendships with clients at the salon.
For the upcoming festive season, the salon will be supporting Lizard House and the Innisfree Hospice as part of their “under the tree” initiative. Monetary donations, non-perishable food items and general supplies will be accepted in order to help support the local community.
“We think giving back, to you know, such an amazing city … is integral to being a business and supporting those around us,” Pinheiro said.