Navigate Salon has managed a seemingly impossible feat for a downtown Toronto hair salon — somehow, it has garnered a mass of positive reviews and nearly zero negative online reactions, including the many comments left on this post before I stopped by to do a full review (see below).
So, when I meet Navigate owner John Taccone, I ask the only natural first question.
"How many of your employees do you have posting reviews online?"
John grins, then switches to genuine mode. "Really," he says, "those reviews are so meaningful."
John doesn't strike me as the type of stylist who is 'above' reading blog comments, and indeed, he confirms that he often looks online for feedback. Of course, his ear is always foremost to the person in his chair. "Our first principle is to listen," he tells me between snips of a client's hair. "Our second principle is to listen. Our third; to listen. And only after all of that do we execute."
It's no wonder clients view navigate so kindly—it's pretty tough to complain about something you asked for specifically yourself.
Navigate offers a bit of a respite from the downtown core, nestled in the Berkeley Castle courtyard off of The Esplanade. John says he decided to open his own salon nearly four and a half years ago after growing tired of the constant bustle at a salon where he worked on Adelaide. He finally decided on this secluded space because, "It's like a supermodel; it has good bones."
Those bones come in the form of tapered windows, exposed yellow bricks, and original wooden beams and posts. The space has been decorated with a take on Victorian-chic, with warm red floors and walls painted almost to the ceiling. "I wasn't tall enough," John replies when I ask him about why he decided to have the paint taper off. Serves me right for asking.
There are seven people on staff, including John himself, and prices for a women's cut range from $45 to $150. He says he mostly stays away from the overly trendy styles ("You won't get a Queen West cut here, if such a thing actually exists"), and tries to stick with "smart, well behaved, and verging on sexy" styles. "Classic, and timeless," he adds. "If you look gorgeous, that's always trendy."
Navigate Salon offers women's cuts from $45 to $150, men's cuts from $45 to $90, and colour and/or highlights from $90 to $200.