Ronnie DeLuca – Ottawa’s Hair Architect, Innovator, and Influencer

Images by Justina McCaffrey.

During the holiday bustle, I had the opportunity to lock down Ronnie DeLuca proprietor of DeLuca Hair (167 Richmond Road) to discuss beauty, and the state of fashion in Ottawa.

For decades, there seemed to be only one place to go for all of your hair styling needs – Rinaldo’s. Every society and top business woman made their monthly pilgrimage to this notable establishment. This salon grew to become an Ottawa institution and almost a shopping mall for the spa and beauty ladies with add on esthetician services.

Ottawa Life:  Tell me about your growing up and tell me how you got involved in this business of doing hair?

Ronnie Deluca:  I started at a very young age of 13 sweeping floors with my uncle Rinaldo from Rinaldo Hair Spa in Place De Ville. There were some really great hair stylists who were dedicated to making women beautiful. My uncle made me go to school. I went to Vidal Sassoon, Toni and Guy….. I studied at a lot of places all with the help from Rinaldo.

That’s impressive. I first discovered you through one of my friends who were getting her hair done at Rinaldo’s by this “mystery guy” who had great and unusual techniques to make the hair perfectly cut straight. I didn’t know who it was. But her hair was always perfectly cut. That is the type of hair that Vidal Sassoon has their stamp on, and I wonder if that was an influence that you had with developing your techniques.

Vidal Sassoon was all about doing hair that was very precise. And eventually as you get older you create your own style and brand of cutting and that’s when I realized, that I don’t do things the same as other people. I created my own methods, and these methods make people beautiful. I did lots with my uncle Rinaldo. He has now retired but he has always been my mentor. I have always been passionate about making women beautiful and I never focused on the money involved.  I just wanted to gain the trust of the ladies, and soon I became so busy that it was time to have my own place.

So we opened Deluca Hair on January 2, 2016, and I am blessed to have the staff that I have. Their youth motivates me because they are ambitious, and we are a big family team. It has the same feeling as when I was younger and at Rinaldo's.  I met so many hairdressers from who are today the leaders and the legends of the industry.

I would think that you are a legend in Ottawa.

Well – I have been around ……(haha). I am still doing work, still learning, and trying to achieve a better place for people to meet and advertise themselves through their great hair. We have created our own look and methods, all within our own style of cutting and a different way of looking at things.

You need the advanced education to get to that place to experience the new looks and techniques that are happening. I advise every young hairdresser to advance their studies and travel to learn with the great masters and innovators of hair where they teach people how to BE a hairdresser. Going to regular school… Yes – its good to go and learn the basics at places like Algonquin and other places, but you need the advanced education. It’s like getting a PHD.  I believe that hairdressers today are missing out on that because there is not enough training. There are a lot of hairdressers who have pretty beauty salons but they don’t want to advance themselves. They want to advance their beauty salon, but if you don’t advance yourself, there is nothing.

When I started there were a lot of different companies with a lot of different procedures. There were perms and things we don’t see anymore. Now color is very important. Color is an art. I am not that patient with that, so I have a color technician. I have always believed that it’s a separate department.

Sculpture verses watercolors.

That’s right.

One of my complaints is a lot of people have great ideas but they can’t execute them. I really like what you have been able to do with the people who have come out of here. You really create a “look” for a woman.  I feel that woman is vacant if she doesn’t have a substantial “look” about her. It’s like when I go through modeling agencies how each girl has a purpose and look – the quintessential blonde, redhead, or brunette. They have specific looks so clients can pick whatever they want and need. You do that with people and give them an identity and foundation for all their other fashion choices. The only salons that I have seen who do this and understand this are the great salons in New York and LA.

I have always believed that hair is the most important thing for a woman.  Often we look to Montreal or New York, but Ottawa has so many beautiful women too. These are women who are beautifully dressed but their hair may have 5 inches of roots.

I think it was Issac Mizrahi who said that, “as long as you have great hair and great shoes, it doesn’t matter what is in between.”

That’s it, and you know, how many black dresses does a woman need? If you look at European woman they have one good dress. They may buy a Gucci dress, or whatever, and the only thing they do, is buy accessories to make the dress look different. Ottawa’s people are sometime closed up and waiting for other places to do it, but we have the talent in Ottawa.

I would love to change ….

Change your city?

Never – I have lived other places but I would never leave Ottawa. I love Ottawa.