Sometimes, you meet someone, and for whatever reason, they ignite something within you. They open your eyes to a whole new world, challenge you to grow in areas you didn’t know needed improvement, and make you a better person because of their presence.
Once-In-A-Lifetime People | Chelsea Tyler | Odyssey

Words of encouragement can spark genius and ignite the spark to unleash hidden potential. Leaders and mentors can help navigate your career through their skill and experiences.

However, it’s those great leaders and great mentors, those “once-in-a-lifetime” people, who will change your life.

Their unwavering belief in you, give you the hope that greatness is possible. They make that undeniable impact on your being — how you approach life – and they ignite a passion inside of you. When someone gives you their time and believes in you – that is a gift that is invaluable.

Fabio Sementilli was a once-in-a-lifetime person. I don’t think anyone could argue otherwise.

I’ve interviewed and spoken to many stylists over the years, and his name always came up as someone they held in highest of regards. He was one of those people who left an indelible impression on almost everyone he met.

There are so many great hairdressers out there, and the best way to be successful is to give it away and pass it on to the next generation.
– Fabio Sementilli

The Power of Mentorship - Bernardi Beauty Blog (1)

The idea for this post was inspired by an interview I did with Yvonne Sharples. She said a great way to carry on his legacy would be to make every July 13th, his birthday, a dedication to him.

It will be a reminder to stop and think of how each of us can pay it forward, and take time to be a mentor and leader within our own profession and communities.

The Power of Mentorship - Bernardi Beauty Blog (2)

Great mentors and leaders can make a difference and cause a ripple effect that, in time, can impact hundreds.

Here are some testimonials from some of his friends on how he made a difference for them — professionally or personally.

Fabio had a profound impact on so many people and how wonderful is it to think that all those people he touched, now want to carry on his legacy.

I have been a friend of Fabio for 17 years. Out of all the many super-inspiring moments with Fab, one stands out…

“Listen Alex, I want my Top Stylist team to understand this: If you are a Top Stylist — everything is on STEROIDS, your work, your brain , your dedication, you being invested, all of it!”

Therefore, if I may, I would pick the word STEROIDS. Big Daddy found for us new meaning of that word, a real one, an honest one — the very special way that was his unique way of motivating and mentoring.

– Aleksandar Blagojevic

Fabio’s laugh was infectious and it always commanded the room when he was there. He wanted to make sure everyone was having a great time and his words of wisdom to me were always:

“Enjoy every opportunity that comes your way Aubrey, because you never know when the next will be.”

Now every time I’m on stage I will think of his words and I will always be grateful to Fab because he is the reason I am part of the Wella Team in the first place.

– Aubrey Loots

bruce saikaley (5)

Those that were lucky enough to have had the chance to meet Fabio knew the kind of person he was — he had charisma, charm, energy, laughter and was full of life. He had it all!

The first time I met him he was on stage at the ABA, he looked like a cool biker dude, I was so inspired by the way he worked the stage , everyone enjoyed watching him. He was very talented. I was lucky enough to have attended one of his hair courses, he always gave 100% love on educating his students.

Fabio, BigDaddy, Brother your legacy will live on!

Thank you for being a huge part of our industry! You will be missed!

– Bruce Saikaley

Fabio Sementilli was more than just a Big Daddy in our industry. His impact on my life will go down as one of my most memorable relationships. Fabio always encouraged me to follow my heart, to never lose sight in my journey of becoming a manufacturer and the value of good relationships across all party lines! He taught me to never burn a bridge, to always listen with the intent to learn and to stay the course — dodging the haters and embracing those who remain students of hairdressing!

I will forever be marked as one of Fabio’s disciples in not only how to live in the moment, but also how to carry others with you along the way.

He profoundly believed in the power of the hairdresser.

He never stood on the top of the mountain looking down but yet he managed, in his gentle giant way, to throw the rope to others so that they to could climb up to success. Missed but never forgotten, Fabio still teaches me everyday and has left his magical mark on my life and generations to come! I love you Big Daddy.

-Candy Shaw

carole protat (3)

Aside from being an award winning stylist and an industry icon with a wicked sense of business, Fabio was, first and foremost, a friend and an amazing human being with a heart of gold. I know most people called him “big daddy” but I called him “papa bear” and he called me “mama bear.” We both felt a responsibility to the industry and the 10 years we spent together at Wella were dedicated to elevating the craft of hairdressing, scouting and fostering future talent, and building passionate professionals and educators throughout North America.

I miss him greatly and I am forever grateful for his friendship and contagious passion. I feel privileged to have spent many years with him dreaming of what could be. I will carry forward his legacy and challenge myself and our industry to believe in our dreams. And as he would say:

“let’s do this!”

– Carole Protat

daniel ditommaso (3)

I have had the pleasure of knowing Fabio for the last 25 years.

Some of the words he has said to me that I still value today…

Daniel — no matter what, you always give 100%.

Keep mentoring and share your knowledge and passion, and always be a voice and stand for what you believe in.

Every time I walked out on stage Fabio would say the same thing: Daniel ( with a thumbs up) give them heck!!

I miss him terribly.

-Daniel Di Tommaso

How do you find the words to truly express how one man has changed so many lives?!

A quote from Jim Carey is the closest I’ve come – “I did something that makes people present their best selves to me wherever I go.” This statement couldn’t be more true of this incredible man.

Fabio brought out the light in people. He left you with the feeling that anything was possible and it was simply going to be okay. He was able to do this not because he was an amazing Hairdresser, he was, and not because he was the Vice President of Education, he just was. He was able to do this because he gave himself freely and openly to all who met him.

This is the greatest gift.

He was a champion for those who couldn’t do it for themselves. “Sit at the table, be present and own it” he would say to me. Fabio sat at the table alright – and showed an entire industry just what Hairdressers are made of!

People, connections, integrity, humility, courage, confidence and empowerment are all things I’ve been able to learn and share with this man I call a friend, mentor and a leader.

I am forever grateful for how he has changed my life and to be able to share this with so many he has touched. He has left a legacy for us to follow and continue. A legacy we all can be proud of and hold on to. A legacy we will carry on together. In the end, all we have are the people in our lives and the moments we share together.

Love each other and tell those you love every chance you get what they mean to you.

I will miss you. #wellafamily #wellalove

-Danielle Dickie

diane cole stevens

We all had a special and unique relationship with Fabio.

He always said “family first”, “give to others” and he let me know he loved God.

I loved when he said, “You can be a trailblazer or you can be a follower.”

-Diane Cole Stevens

diego raviglione

Fabio was one of those rare people you are blessed to meet in this world.

He was always so full of life, laughter and love. I always said he was bigger than life. He wanted all the people around him he loved to succeed and always wished the best for them. He did so much for so many and selflessly gave his time and support to anyone who asked.

HE was the type of person that made you want to be better.

His laughter brought light even in the darkest days. He will never be forgotten , he will always be greatly loved by all who knew him and even through this devastating loss we are all better for knowing him.

I love you dear brother. Until we see each other again.

-Diego Raviglione

gianpaolo colombo (5)

Fabio was like a brother to me and definitely a mentor for both my personal and professional life. He has helped me in so many ways throughout my career as a stylist, always pushing me to strive for the best and to never give up. We always stayed connected via Phone or email. Fabio always wanted to know what I was up to and would always give me his word and guidance! I will never forget when He called me just before I was heading to compete on Sebastian WNA in Miami. He fired me up with his words and motivated me to want to win, he made sure I was ready to rock and was prepared.

Some words Fabio would tell me:

“Pay it forward , never give up, believe in yourself , you rise by lifting others.”

-Gianpaolo Colombo

I remember the first time I stepped into the Wella flagship and the first person I saw through the doors was Fabio. He greeted me with the biggest hug and smile and asked me to come into his office for a chat. We chatted for a good half hour over how beautiful the industry is and about his accomplishments. Even though it was his first time meeting me, he made it feel like we had known each other for ages with his warm welcome.

He had so much to give and willing to share all of his secrets with me.

I still vividly remember that first meeting to this day, and I will never forget how special he made me feel. He will forever be in my memory and I know his legacy will live on.

-Larisa Love

Fabio – this is your special day. You have done so much for our industry not only a great hairdresser but a voice for us all. You wanted to make a difference, you wanted to make sure we were all heard. You always made time to talk and help grow my skills as a hairdresser and educator.

You inspired us to do more.

We celebrate your 50th and know we love and miss you each and every day. We will carry on what you have started. We will always speak your name. Hugs and kisses.

– Laura Visco

“Be Loud”

Fabio would always tell me to be loud and proud in the corporate office while representing the hairdresser community. He once said, “If I am not hearing about you from others, you are not being loud enough.”

It encouraged me to speak up, even if it seems silly or pointless.

-Laura Yochum

liza macawili ramos (2)

The first time I worked for Fabio I had just made the Trucco Artistic Team (the former makeup line for Sebastian Professional), around 2005. I had heard he was tough to work with. He was teaching a class at The Studio LA and he had eight avant-garde models to present and I was hired to do makeup for his models. We had six hours to get the models ready but he wasn’t giving me the models to get their makeup done until their hair was done. I did eight avant-garde makeups in two hours. This was when makeup trends were still a bit flashy — lashes, feathers, rhinestones, glitter and all. I made it happen. I didn’t know I could do it, but he did.

He managed to pull out the best in me. That day prepared me for many in my career and when I think it can’t be done I think of that day.

I had the pleasure of doing Fabio’s grooming for many of his appearances on camera and at shows. I know exactly what colors I used on him. I still think of him every time I see his powder in my kit. What I loved about Fabio was that he trusted his team. He never asked me for a mirror after I was done with his grooming. He just trusted that I made him look his best. And at the end of the shows, he always remembered to thank the makeup artists, something many hairdressers forget to do.

When Fabio walked into a room, he had a commanding but warm presence. I loved to hear his laugh from across the room. And Fabio gave the best hugs. He would always go out of his way to say hi, even while everyone was pulling him in every direction. He is sorely missed.

-Liza Macawili Ramos

megan newell

Even though I’m not a hairdresser or an educator, I was lucky enough to work very closely with Fabio. He always impressed me with his passion and devotion to the industry. My personal mission statement has always been to give every hairdresser their 15 minutes of fame (if not more) and Fabio helped me be authentic in that pursuit.

The most valuable lesson he tried to teach me was to be consistent, always show up and follow through.

I didn’t really understand or take to heart the lesson until a few years ago but it is now the foundation of everything I do.

-Megan Newell

michael haase

I remember Fabio and I had some moment together in Monaco for ITVA. We were once again assessing the industry and its artists as we would on occasion, and he asked me how I feel about integrity. I answered him with the only thing that made sense, we were trained with integrity, it’s part of our DNA with our previous mentors.

Fabio always said, “just get it done,”  those words have always stuck with me. I still consider Fabio as one of my mentors, even after almost 47 years in this industry.

He taught me to improve my approachability and always pay it forward — words I have led my life with.

I have to say from all the greats I have learned from, Fabio is most likely the happiest great. For me you always knew when Fabio was around because his laugh would show up five minutes earlier before he entered the room. RIP.

– Michael Haase

Trying to remember the most influential or monumental “words of wisdom” from Big Daddy is virtually impossible.

There were words of encouragement that I will use again, not only for myself, but to share with the many I mentor.

There were also words of tough love that I will selfishly hold near to my heart and may never share.

Fabio Sementilli you changed my life forever.

I love you.

– Omar Antonio Gonzalez

rachel and vanessa fortino

I will always remember him for his laugh but there isn’t a day in my career that goes by without his words echoed in my ear.

He was a man of integrity, passion and love.

He pushed me to do things I didn’t even know I was ready for. That was his gift. Fab was an amazing mentor but an even better human. I promise to pay it forward because that is what he would want us to do. Always remembered, never forgotten. Love always.

-Rachel Fortino

What I will never forget about Fab is his love and passion for is older sister. It reminds me of my relationship with my sister and how hard it is to work with each other in the same industry. Very few get to experience that. I know how lucky Fab was to have Mirella teach him everything she knew and I loved how he loved her.

There is no bond more beautiful in our industry then that.

-Vanessa Fortino

ramsey sayah (1)

I remember one time Fabio and I were in Berlin, and just finished the Trend Vision show.

I can’t remember what year it was. The hotel we were staying at was right downtown and the Americans, Canadians and the Irish were all staying there.

Ireland had won that year, so the party in the lobby of that hotel was something special. Imagine 300 Industry people all partying the last night In Berlin with the Trend Vision champion. I bartended for most of the night, just to help out, then hung out with everyone for a bit.

When it was all said and done, Fabio and I were starving. We heard about a famous food truck that was serving Turkish food about 20 minutes away. Without a thought we were on our way.

Fabio and I had become very close because he was real with me.

Hanging out with him felt like you couldn’t be in a better place with a better person at that moment.

I think that’s why Fabio touched so many people with his personality. You actually felt special being around him and if he loved you, then you were doing good and being your best.

He truly wanted the best for you. The kind of guy, who gave his heart to you so you can go and be the best version of yourself.

If only we could do a little of what he did and gave to each other as he did. This world would be a little bit of a better place.

I love you Fabio and I am grateful for the many times we shared and the lessons you taught me. I can hear your voice now:

Oh Rammer, to what do I owe these kind words, I am humbled.

ramsey sayah (2)

You always said things like this when people complimented you. You deserve it bro and many more.

I admire what you did. You met people and left them with an impression, as is always the case when we meet people. Sometimes we leave them with an impression that’s positive, sometimes negative and sometimes it’s just a weak impression, they hardly remember meeting you.

After meeting Fabio you were left with an impression that this guy had a personality that’s positive, larger than life, motivating, loving, accepting, genuine, caring and fun. He simply made you just want more of him.

His charm and charisma was infectious.

He did this so easily that I just wanted 10 percent of what he had, so I could do the same to people. Leaders and successful people in all areas of business and politics have this gift. It’s truly a gift that comes with great responsibility and Fabio understood this responsibility and carried it proud for Wella and his fellow stylists.

You will never be forgotten or replaced, but if I ever meet another one like you, I will tell them about you and give them the guidance that you had given to all of us.

You will live in my heart forever Fabio.

Here is a link to the interview I did with him last year. This was one of his few personal interviews. I’m so glad I did it. It really shows Fabio’s personality, his passion for our industry and for life.

– Ramsey Sayah

sandy arthur

My experience with Fabio is as a mentor and a boss. Many people have noted his larger than life personality, which in my experience is the perfect description.

He lived in a big way, inspiring and challenging us to dream bigger too.

But he also kept things real, keeping the stylist and salon truly as the heart of our efforts. He was passionate about so many aspects of our industry – the creative artist, competitions, the business owner and especially mentoring.

He constantly reminded each of us to do our part to shape the future through mentoring.

Being a leading company in such a diverse industry gave us many ways to do this and Fabio championed them all – from mentoring the creative process of competitions or photo shoots to coaching new talent into the corporate world. We worked to build futures on many paths, all of them allowing Stylists to find their own way to shine.

I consider myself very lucky to have known Fabio and appreciate the energy he brought to us. He also had a great way of reminding us to have fun along the journey. He is greatly missed yet thankfully still very present in so many ways.

-Sandy Arthur

Fabio was big in so many ways, he worked and gave – big, he lived and cared — big, he will be missed — big.

– Stephen Moody

tiffany bernard

Fabio — you were like the smile to the hair industry, it will never be the same without you.

In December, I was talking to you about TrendVision – inspiring me to just keep competing until I win. Trendvision is for you this year! Being a finalist for the third time – I was so grateful to have someone like you push stylists like me.

Every time I saw your face you were so happy and gave me the best hugs. Thank you for impacting not just me but so many hairdressers in the industry. Never giving up on a soul and inspiring to keep educating themselves.

I will be traveling forever “Fabstyle.”

Love you Fabio. #wellalife

– Tiffany Bernard

Reflecting on this very special day, thinking about so many people you have touched professionally and personally.

You have been a leader, coach, mentor and friend. Your vision is and will always live on in everyone you have mentored.

Thank you Fabio for graciously sharing what you loved, you inspired and awakened the hearts of so many.

Thank you for leading the way for so many PHDs.

You will never walk alone. Celebrate your 50th knowing how much you are loved. God Bless My Friend.

-Yvonne Sharples

Hairdressers at Heart is proud to commemorate a true industry leader and visionary who reminded us to pay it forward and never stop learning. Click here to read more about the Fabio Sementilli #ICAN Scholarship.

If you have a story or words of wisdom you would like to share, please send me an email

A special thank you to Megan Newell and Yvonne Sharples for helping me put this tribute post together, and to Ramsey Sayah for introducing me to Fabio in the first place.