Salon with funk

Dora Fortino, owner of Gallaria Hair Studio, stands in her new

A little bit of L.A., a little bit of Las Vegas.
That’s how Dora Fortino describes her two-week-old downtown hair
salon, Gallaria Hair Studio.
A little bit of L.A., a little bit of Las Vegas.

That’s how Dora Fortino describes her two-week-old downtown hair salon, Gallaria Hair Studio.

“It’s really trendy. It’s something that Gilroy has never seen,” Fortino said.

A hair stylist for eight years, the 35-year-old native Gilroyan hung up her scissors for a few years when she became a sales representative three years ago for Sebastian International, a hair care product manufacturer.

But she said the lure of doing hair was never far from her mind. She searched for the perfect Gilroy space to set up shop for two years before finding the new building at 85 Fifth St. She took over two units at the corner of Fifth and Eigleberry streets, knocking down a wall and creating a spacious 1,880 square-foot salon.

Deep red and blue walls provide the backdrop for six hair stations – with ample room for more. Red angular sinks, full-length steel-framed mirrors, painted concrete floors, toolboxes for storage space and exposed metal beams lend to the hip, downtown look that Fortino aimed to create. One curved doorway is filled with signatures, many of which belong to people who stopped by for the salon’s Nov. 16 opening, which drew 130 community members.

“Those are the stars of Gilroy,” Fortino explains. “Everyone who has stopped by has signed that wall.”

Framed Cher posters also play a large part in Fortino’s signature look.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge Cher fan … When ever my friends come in they say, ‘This is so you.’ She’s everywhere.”

Fortino, who earned her hair-cutting license in 1986, is trained in makeup and hair color by Sebastian, and hair extensions by Great Lengths. Two full-time stylists, one of whom managed a Great Clips for four years and the other worked at Super Cuts for four years, one part-time stylist, a manicurist and makeup artist round out her staff.

While Fortino said Gallaria is not a day spa, it does offer a lengthy list of services, including haircuts, blow-outs, hair styling, color and perms, waxing, manicures and pedicures, ear piercing, and makeup services.

Fortino said rates are generally $5 cheaper than found at most area hair salons. A haircut costs $30 while color starts at $80.

Two tanning beds – one stand-up and one lay-down, also are available. Patrons can pay $99 for 99 visits (or unlimited use for six months at $1 per visit). The salon also sells Trucco makeup, which Fortino said is comparable to Mac makeup but less expensive.

Fortino said she will continue taking walk-ins for at least the first year and also takes appointments.

Gallaria’s neighbor, a new eyeglass frame shop, is set to open next month. The 861-square-feet shop is located at 7516 Eigleberry St. It will offer adult and children’s glasses, and safety glasses, and in-office lens cutting, said Sondra Rodriguez of Gilroy, who co-owns the shop along with Diane Levonius.

Rodriguez, who has worked in opticals for the past 11 years, said she has always wanted to open an optical shop in Gilroy.

Gallaria Hair Studio, located at 85 Fifth St., Suite 100, is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It can be reached at 847-4479.

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