Sivana Salon is a place in St. James to get your hair styled, but to owner Steven Melito it’s an “oasis of enlightenment.”
The salon has been open for 18 years, formerly under the name Melito International, but Melito changed the name to Sivana seven years ago after reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Sivana, according to Melito, is the enlightened place in the Himalayas where the protagonist, an attorney, travelled to on a spiritual journey, a journey of self-discovery, after suffering a heart attack.
Melito’s oasis of enlightenment sits on Lake Avenue next to St. James Natural Food and boasts bold colored walls and inspirational statements written in graffiti-styled lettering by Chris Heeren, a tattoo artist at Tattoo Lou’s, also in St. James.
“I wanted it to be more of a feel-good kind of a feeling. I know myself if I go into a salon and it’s that white and sterile kind of feeling, that doesn’t make me happy, that makes me a little uptight,” he said. “I just wanted to have something that’s warm, friendly.”
The walls are painted bright orange, hot pink and lime green, and while they are immediate eye-catchers the intent of the bold colors is to be relaxing and spiritually uplifting to his clientele. Melito chose the colors after a random visit to Dunkin Donuts.
“I said to one of the managers I’m curious as to why you guys went with these colors,” Melito said. “They [said they] met with therapists that said they were very happy, soothing, cool colors.”
The artistry and décor, according to manager Alexandra Rivera, mirrors the uniqueness and personality of Sivana’s clientele.
“This is a place for freedom of expression,” she said. “This is the place to be bold and know that you’re bold. If that’s the feeling you want to achieve we’ll help you achieve that feeling. It’s not just an exterior thing, it’s an interior thing.”
Just as unique as the graffiti and color scheme of the salon is the story behind how Melito obtained the location.
According to Melito, the former landlord of the building said the previous salon owners left the location furnished without giving notice. Melito entered the vacated salon with the landlord and looked at an open schedule book. The last appointment was scheduled for exactly one year to the day of his visit.
Melito immediately decided to take over the business, and over time would begin to take over the building. The strip contains four storefronts, and after a video store that occupied one closed Sivana expanded. St. James Natural Food occupied the other two storefronts, but recently decided to occupy just one, allowing Melito to expand once again.
Despite his thoughts on what he feels is a current depleted economic state, Melito decided to simply follow his instincts and expand further. “I’m a spiritual kind of guy and I feel like God said this is the right time for me,” he said.
Melito thinks the expansion of his business could give hope to people who are also concerned with the current economic climate.
“I think people right now are genuinely depressed, they’re anxious, they’re nervous with what’s happening with the economy,” he said. “They can walk in here and it’s a breath of fresh air to see that I’m doing well, it gives them hope for themselves in the future too. I really believe that.”