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THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2016
The Rockaway Times
Women of the Peninsula:
DIANE LIELLO AND GERRI STANSKY OF STRANDS HAIR SALON
Who runs the peninsula?
Women. A large number of local
businesses and organizations are
owned and operated by females.
And they deserve recognition.
As part of an ongoing series, the
Rockaway Times is profiling lo-
cal female entrepreneurs each
week. This week is Diane Liel-
lo and Gerri Stansky, owners of
Strands Hair Salon in Rockaway
Park.
In need of a special look for
communion, prom or wedding
season, or maybe just a spring
spruce up? The ladies of Strands
invite you to let your hair down
and let them fix it up. Both Di-
ane Liello and Gerri Stansky
bring about three decades of ex-
perience with hair to the chair,
twenty years of working together
and 12 years of serving the men
and women of peninsula with
Strands. Whether you need a
simple haircut, coloring, a new
style, a makeover, a special kera-
tin treatment, a look for a special
occasion, makeup or you need
to pick up some jewelry, acces-
sories or hair products, Strands
has it all. Liello and Stansky pro-
vide these services along with
a large staff that includes Sal,
Julia, Faye, Kristina, Katie, Roz,
Lauren, Bella, Jill, Sam, Nia, Ker-
ry and Alicia.
Liello, of Rockaway Park, and
Stansky, of Breezy Point, have
long been in the beauty busi-
ness. “I always had an interest in
hair, so I went to beauty school
and started working in salons
right out of school,” Liello said.
She obtained her license in
1987. “I had two older cousins
that were hairdressers and as
a kid I’d go to their house and
watch them do hair and I was
always drawn to it. I grew up
in Long Island and they offered
BOCES classes where you could
take free classes to learn a skill.
I had my license by the time I
graduated high school in 1980,”
Stanksy said. Both women spent
time working at various salons
around the peninsula and Stan-
sky had previous experience
as a salon owner when she co-
owned Hair We Are on Beach
116th Street with Jill in the late
‘80s and early ‘90s. Liello and
Stansky first started working to-
gether in 1996.
Stansky and Liello say they
didn’t have intentions of open-
ing their own salon, but working
under other salons became in-
creasingly frustrating. “It’s tough
owning your own business with
the way things are going in the
world today, but it came down
to working in other salons and
seeing them go under and not
directly seeing what isn’t being
taken care of or done directly.
There would be times when we
ran out of supplies. A lot of the
time, the owners of salons aren’t
hairdressers and they don’t
know what needs to be done to
keep the shop running the right
wayand it got annoying.Theonly
way you know things are getting
done the right way is by doing it
yourself,” Stansky said. “At the
time, we were moving around a
lot. We decided to open our own
place for security, just to know
that we’d be in one place. We
had a certain work ethic and we
wanted to share that in one sa-
lon as opposed to just in a chair
as individuals,” Liello added.
On April 1, 2004, Liello, Stan-
sky and Sal Araimo opened
Strands on Beach 115th and
Beach Channel Drive. The salon
operated at the bayside location
until Hurricane Sandy. “We lost
everything in Sandy,” Liello said.
Having to start over fromscratch,
the ladies decided to move to a
brand new location. Liello and
Stansky opened the brand new
Strands at 104-06 Rockaway
Beach Boulevard. The ladies say
the move resulted in them los-
ing some foot traffic, but they
gained use of a large parking lot,
something they hadn’t had pre-
viously. “Having parking is a big
plus in Rockaway, especially in
the summer,” Liello said.
Despite losing everything
and having to start anew, the
ladies have never given up on
giving back. Every July, Strands
is closed to regular custom-
ers on one day to give back to
the Wounded Warrior Project.
When the warriors come to
town, Strands offers the sol-
diers and their wives any ser-
vice of their choice, whether it
be a haircut, coloring, blowouts
or keratin treatments. “It’s one
of Strands’ proudest annual
events. We wanted a way to give
back to those who sacrificed so
much and it gives us such a good
feeling to be able to give back to
them,” Liello said. Strands has
also offered their services to the
St. Baldrick’s Foundation, in
which people cut their hair to
raise money for children’s can-
cer research.
As both ladies have children,
they say running a hair salon
and balancing family life can
be a challenge. “Your weekends
aren’t your own. I’ve missed
things that I would do with my
kids on a Saturday. We’re es-
pecially busy around the hol-
idays. It’s like any customer
service profession. You work
when everyone else is taking
off. When you’re a hair styl-
ist, you need to be dependable
because people are relying on
you,” Stansky said. “The client is
always first. We always try to ac-
commodate them,” Liello said.
However, serving their clients is
also the most rewarding aspect.
“You can really see someone
come to life just by changing
their color or style. People can
look younger and trendier and
can change their whole look
and it feels good tomake people
feel good about themselves,”
Stansky said.
Despite having such a large
staff, the ladies say there is
a team atmosphere among
them. “When I worked at other
salons, it always seemed very
cutthroat and people fought
over customers. We ensure that
everyone works together. If
someone is having trouble, no
one has a problem jumping in
with a curling iron. If someone
needs a certain color, everyone
brainstorms and figures out
the best way to do it. Everyone
works as a team because it’s
all about making the custom-
er happy and comfortable,”
Stansky said. The staff is also
constantly learning and grow-
ing. “We always go to different
classes to keep up with the new
products, colors and styles.
The young girls that start here
are very eager and excited to
learn new things, which makes
us feel inspired, too,” Stansky
added.
Strands, located at 104-06
Rockaway Beach Boulevard,
is open six days a week and
closed on Mondays. Late night
hours (until 9 p.m.) are offered
Wednesdays through Fridays.
Appointments can be made by
calling 718-318-1080.
Diane and Gerri