With three award-winning inner-city hair salons, three young (genetically-blessed) children, and an eco-friendly professional haircare range, Sofia Basile has a lot on her plate. At the helm of UNICO Hair and UNICO Formulations, Sofia is a proud born and bred Melburnian, and a passionate advocate of supporting local and independent business.
We like her style!
TUL takes two with the queen of the coiffure.
TUL: Sofia, how long have you been in the hairdressing biz?
I started in the hairdressing world 27 years ago. Feels like yesterday!
TUL: You opened your first UNICO Hair salon on Degraves Street 23 years ago. How has the area changed since you first set up shop?
Degraves has gone through enormous change; it was really seedy and grungy when I first moved in. It has slowly transformed into a very European outdoor laneway, with an incredible buzz.
TUL: You also have a gorgeous eco-friendly UNICO Formulations product range. How did that come about?
The UNICO Formulations idea developed when my hands were afflicted with a severe case of dermatitis and I searched high and low for a locally-made natural product range that really worked. Drawing a blank, I decided to take matters into my own hands and set about developing a high-end, natural range without an exorbitant price tag. The result is UNICO Formulations, and I couldn't be more proud of the range. The selection of shampoos, conditioners and styling products are enriched with essential oils and vitamins and look and smell delicious. But, most importantly, they help create and maintain healthy, glossy hair!
TUL: How important to you is supporting local business?
Very important!! My philosophy is to use the local talents readily available at our door step. I like to help keep Australians employed by having everything manufactured in Australia! The formulating is done in Melbourne, as are the packaging design and manufacture.
TUL: What's the best part about your job?
Working with my wonderful clients, some of whom have become great friends. For instance, the recent renovation of the Degraves Street salon was done by an interior designer client of mine, Kate Challis. The result is simply stunning and Degraves' shoppers are constantly stopping in their tracks to gawk. Our foot traffic has increased immensely.
TUL: Favorite season in your city & why?
Spring! Because it's Spring Carnival time.
TUL: Best way to spend $50 in Melbourne?
On a $50 blow-wave at my favourite salon, of course!
TUL: And the best way to spend $500?
On a lovely pamper day getting a facial and a massage. Bliss!
TUL: Three places in Melbourne I couldn't do without are:
Can I say UNICO Fitzroy, UNICO Little Collins, and UNICO Degraves?
TUL: Favorite Melbourne coffee spot?
Newtown Social Club in Fitzroy. The staff are lovely, the coffee's great, and it's just across the road from the Brunswick Street salon. I have three salons and three young children, so let's just say that convenience is king for me!
TUL: Favorite Melbourne restaurant?
Red Spice Road, a South East Asian restaurant in the city, where my amazing friend, John McLeay, is the chef. Delicious dishes which are perfect for sharing.
TUL: Place for a drink?
Naked for Satan on Brunswick Street. Great for a glass of wine and some cheap and yummy Pintxos.
TUL: I spend way too much money on . . .
Shoes and bags! I love accessories!
TUL: Latest Melbourne discovery?
The bar Naked in the Sky which sits on top of Naked for Satan. The best sweeping rooftop views of Melbourne, hands down.
TUL: An old fave?
Grossi Florentino. Still a top pick for a special occasion.