I have known Samantha for almost 10 years now and we have quite a bit in common. We are both Italian, we share the same astrological sign Taurus and the beauty industry, albeit in different ways, has been a part of our lives for a long time.

Over the years Samantha has evolved into a well grounded and talented hair artist, with a loyal clientele. She also has made her own mark within the Ottawa hair salon scene and beauty industry.

Here is a bit of her story.

Photo provided by Samantha Belli

Samantha Belli

Hair Artist, HQ
Instagram : @sammybelli

The profession you chose is a bit of a family affair. Was becoming a hairstylist always your calling – what inspired you to pursue this career path?

At the time, I did not know that I would be a hairstylist. When I was younger, I was always into doing my family members’ hair. I remember my mom would ask me to blow dry her hair every Friday evening so that she would look fresh for the weekend.

I think after experiencing that sense of accomplishment after helping my mother feel more well put together each week. I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to pursue moving forward.

I actually landed a co-op placement in high school at the salon I began my career at and it turned out to be my calling. Working around people who were very talented and very motivating really inspired me; work became a really enjoyable place.

What inspires you as an artist?

The creative aspect of doing hair is a bonus. The relationships that I have built and the ability to make my clients feel a certain way is what inspires me.

I love all my clients and the new people I meet every day!

What are some of the challenges you faced early on in your career?

I have faced many challenges in my career to date and I continue to face challenges. But as for those I faced earlier in my career, I would have to say learning the flow of being a hairstylist; multi-tasking, customer service, people-pleasing. Those aspects of being a hair stylist are very important to me.

Learning the fundamentals. The hair is the simplest part of it.

This industry is very much about feeling and energy. Making my clients feel amazing and making them look good at the same time is the biggest challenge for me.

I love when hair artists do two things: post with purpose (not just post a picture for the sake of posting a picture) and when they touch a bit on their personal life. It reminds people that there is a human being behind all these looks.
Networking is a massive part of your industry. Social media is one way artists can share their work with a massive audience. This is something you do very well.
Although talent, skill and drive are paramount in your profession, do you think using social media plays an important part as well?

Yes, I definitely think that social media plays an important part. Social media is the new magazine, when you think about it. If anything, it is better, because it is more personal.

With that though comes unrealistic expectations. I am pretty good at meeting my clients’ needs, but social media can also be misleading, i.e. filters, photoshopping, lighting. Colour can look very different in natural lighting as opposed to a photograph. So I just remind my clients that I’m not a magician and do my best.

Instagram : @sammybelli

In 2013 you created this stunning look for Trend vision that earned you a People’s Choice Award. It still remains one of my favorite looks to-date. Do you still do any editorial work or photoshoots?

Thank you for the compliment, I really enjoyed doing my look for Trend Vision. No, I have not done any editorial work or photoshoots lately. Would I? Maybe, if something came around to spark my interest. The pandemic had me put that on pause. Something will come up soon I’m sure.

Instagram : @sammybelli

I have always loved the salon and barber shop culture. The environment it creates is so important for both beauty professionals and clients. It is a place to be inspired, motivated and make connections with people – it is not just a place to get your hair done.
The hair industry has undergone a major transformation over the last decade – especially with the emergence of salon suites. Over the years you have worked in a few salons – how important is it to you to be surrounded by other artists every day?

It is very important to be surrounded by artists every day because it motivates and inspires me.

Sometimes we run into a little bit of a creative block as artists and it is nice to know that I can look to my peers for inspiration. I think that’s what I love the most about working in a salon as opposed to working from home.

What advice would you give to someone coming into the beauty industry?

Learn the flow of the salon. I have worked with some talented stylists during my career one of them being my co-worker and long-time friend Damien Carvery and he has played a role in molding me into the stylist I am today.

A lot of observing, questioning and copying. Learning the basics of being a hairstylist, mastering that and then when you are comfortable, personalizing it with your own techniques.

Having mentors in this industry is key. And I was lucky to be surrounded by them.

I saw a segment you took part in on the CBC. You were interviewed alongside your longtime client Brenda Carruthers.

No one dries my hair like Samantha does. Being able to come back was like a gift. – Brenda Carruthers

Shear Joy | CBC News

Clients don’t just come to get their hair done, they come to feel good, they come to look good. It’s almost like therapy. – Samantha Belli

Shear Joy | CBC News

After I watched it I was reminded of something John Steinbeck wrote.

It is my considered opinion that the hairdresser is the most influential person in any community. When the public goes to a hairdresser, something happens to them. They feel safe, they relax. The hairdresser knows what their skin is like under the makeup, they know their age, they don’t have to keep up any kind of pretense. People tell a hairdresser things they wouldn’t dare confess to a priest and they are open about matters they’d try to conceal from a doctor. When people place their secret lives in the hairdresser’s hands, the hairdresser gains an authority few other people attain. I have heard hairdressers quoted with complete conviction on art, literature, politics, economics, child care and morals. I tell you that a clever, thoughtful, ambitious hairdresser wields a power beyond the comprehension of most people.

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley : In Search of America

You have been in the beauty industry for 18 years now – what have these relationships meant to you?

My relationships with my clients mean so much to me. Knowing that I get to be their anchor when they need it means everything. Doing their hair is just an added bonus. I have built an amazing clientele over the years and I’m extremely lucky. We’ve gone through milestones and life changes together. Knowing that I get to be there through all that is a big reason why I love what I do.

It’s not just about the hair, it’s family.

You spend a lot of time with family, in particular your Nonna. Is she passing on her family dishes and secrets to you?

My Nonna is a very important person in my life. Since both my mom and dad had full time jobs, my brother and I spent a lot of time at both my grandparents’ houses.

If I had to choose, I’d have to say that Nonna Belli makes the best gnocchi in the city. Since I could remember she’d had me rolling gnocchi as a kid. I wish I could say she gave me her recipe but the truth is she never had a recipe. Everything was measured by her eye or by taste.

We both share an astrological sign – Taurus. Although I don’t agree with all the personality traits some of them are SPOT on – good and bad. Which of the Taurus traits do you think are pretty much accurate?

I would have to say I’m a true Taurus. Loyal, stubborn, independent and sensitive. I think they’re all great qualities. A little bit of everything. Very passionate and lovable.

Over the years everyone will encounter experiences that impact their life professionally and personally. Although it might change – what is your current life motto?

I’m always learning and evolving.

Life can be crazy for the most part and I think we get in our heads a lot of times or I should say I do.

Try and worry about making yourself happy and doing things that make you happy. Focus on being the best version of yourself and your path will follow. Keep people around who have good energy and want the same for themselves and for the people around them.

Balance is also really important.

Trying to not be so hard on ourselves. I think we are our worst critics which is good, but can also get in our way.

It’s okay to be wrong, that’s a part of the journey.

That’s just the universe’s way of guiding us and molding us into becoming who we are and the best version of ourselves.