Ursuline grad plans Wednesday sessions at Canfield salon
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Youngstown native Mia Santiago, a celebrity hair stylist in New York whose clients include Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order”), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”) and Noah Schnapp (“Stranger Things”), is in her hometown this week to build a new customer base.
The 1998 graduate of Ursuline High School (she was then known as Melissa Meyers) has been based at one of the prestigious Sally Hershberger salons in New York since 2008.
On Wednesday, Santiago will be at Magnolias on the Green salon, 79 N. Broad St., Canfield, to style the hair of Mahoning Valley residents. To make an appointment or for information, email her at email@example.com.
She will return to the Valley every six to eight weeks for appointments, and possibly for seminars on hair trends.
Once Santiago set her mind on becoming a hair stylist, success soon followed.
After graduating from Ursuline, Santiago moved to Florida and lived there for four years before moving to Las Vegas.
She first saw Hershberger in action in 2006 and was so impressed with the renowned stylist’s skill and personality, that she decided at that moment that she would one day work for her.
So Santiago moved back to Youngstown where she enrolled at Casal Aveda Institute in Austintown. After graduating, she took off for New York, where got her first job as a stylist – and hated it.
“It wasn’t pleasant,” she said. “I didn’t find my circle there and it wasn’t what I aspired to do.”
She got laid off after 13 months, and – feeling like a failure – had a talk with a friend in the industry who was already working for Hershberger. “He said to me, ‘You just got handed the best thing that could have happened to you,’” said Santiago, painting the layoff as an opportunity for a fresh start.
She sent her resume to Hershberger, which was intimidating, and can still vividly recall the moment she got a phone call for an interview.
It wasn’t until 2010 that she would actually meet Hershberger. “She asked me what inspired me to become a stylist, and I told her ‘you did’,” she said.
Santiago has since traveled with Hershberger to industry events across North America many times.
Her work would also be displayed countless times in fashion and modeling magazines, and she also has worked on many television shows including “Saturday Night Live” and “The Today Show.”
Through her position at Hershberger’s salon, and also though her agents who represent her as an independent celebrity stylist, she has built an impressive list of actors and entertainers whose hair she has styled. It includes Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan from “SNL,” Broadway and television actor Neil Patrick Harris, comedian Louis Black and TV host Dr. Oz.
For a complete list, check out miasantiagohair.com; for photos of her work, check out her Instagram page, @miasantiagohair.
Santiago said she likes to remind Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who co-stars with Youngstown native Ed O’Neill on “Modern Family,” that she and O’Neill both went to Ursuline High – and he chides her back with a “Mia, I don’t care!”
She is married to Jaime Santiago, and the couple have a son, Silas, 2.
The decision to change her first name to Mia came about for a practical reason – to avoid confusion. There was another stylist in her shop early in her career named Marissa, which rhymes with Melissa, and their money from customers often got mixed up, she explained.
Santiago’s schedule includes being a guest speaker on an Oprah Winfrey “Adventure of Your Life” cruise to Alaska in October, where she will talk to guests about makeovers and hair trends.
But no matter how far she goes, Santiago says she will always maintain strong ties to Youngstown, where her parents still live, and she wants her son to share those ties.
“I have so many friends here,” she said. “No matter how long I am gone, the friendship is amazing.”