Dritan (Dri) Azemi has always been driven by innovation and determination. Growing up, his parents dreamed he would become a doctor or engineer, but at the age of 19 Dritan dropped out of college to pursue a different dream. Dritan aspired to help people, but in his own less-traditional way. It was this notion that started Dritan’s impressive journey from his home country of Albania to California. From this, Dritan began to climb the professional ladder to his current status as one of Pittsburgh’s premiere hairstylists.
When his family moved from Albania to southern California, Dritan wanted to pursue a career as a cosmetic massage therapist. His aspiration was to help treat people who were suffering from facial nerve damage or recovering from cosmetic surgery. He envisioned working closely under the direction of plastic surgeons. However, his desire to help people would later drive him to learn professional precision in hair styling. A field he now loves.
“ I had just dropped out of college and was passing by a beauty school where on the window it advertised " facials and massages ". I went in, and after talking to the school director she explained that I could work under a doctor after I got my cosmetology license, ” said Dritan during an interview.
He then immediately enrolled and began taking daily classes. As an avid student, Dritan wished to learn professional styling techniques that would make clients feel amazing about their hair.
“ I don’t know exactly when it hit me, I think it was after I went on the school’s styling floor, but I absolutely started to love the idea of becoming a hair stylist. It was challenging, competitive and it had a great reward, ” explained Dritan. “ Doing people’s hair made them happy, and that was and still is the best feeling for me. ”
Dritan felt natural in this environment and strived to excel further through positive experience.
By the time Dritan completed school and obtained his California cosmetology license, he had found his passion and had no desire to do anything else but hair.
He began searching for a salon that was unique, and could offer him the opportunity to learn and grow as a stylist. With a burning desire to succeed and his devotion to his clients happiness, he looked for an opportunity where he could utilize his professional precision.
“ On my 20th birthday, I was flying down Interstate 15 and I got stopped by the California Highway Patrol, ” admits Dritan. “ I just happened to get pulled over at the exit leading to the Ontario Mills Mall, and so there I stopped, and I went in the mall, which is where I saw a very unique salon. ”
The salon at that time was called Allen Edwards, and it felt right to Dritan from the moment he walked through the door.
“ I applied for a job and I got the job on the spot, it was a blessing! ” said Dritan. “ I started within a week, and after six months of hard work and a lot of education within the company, I went from a stylist to a senior stylist. ”
With the benefit of expert training through hands-on classes, Dritan worked hard to learn as much as possible at Allen Edwards. A fast learner, he eventually went on to become an educator for the company.
When the salon transitioned from “ Allen Edwards ” to “ Collections Salon and Day Spa ”and “ Angles Salon ”, owned by Angles Beauty Care Group Inc. Dritan was eager to see what he could learn from the new management, and the company was equally as eager to teach him.
“ Within a few months after the name change, they found a leader, teacher and mentor who not only changed the company for the better, but changed my career and life for good. His named was Adam Shuman. I listened to everything he said and made it reality when it came to hair, ” said Dritan. “ Adam had been in the business for more than 30 years at that time, and he knew the business inside and out. He was very eccentric and extremely talented. He showed me how to cut and style hair in a way that many hair stylists are not even taught nowadays. ”
According to Dritan’s knowledge, Shuman had discovered this method years before as a hairstylist in business with hairstylist icon John Dellaria. (Shuman is also the brainchild of the ceramic flat irons, from CHI to HAI and now with his latest invention A.J.R.S superstar.)
Within a year under Shuman’s guidance, Dritan achieved the titles of Master Stylist and Junior Art Director for the company.
“ Under Adam’s lead, I was still learning, teaching and being taught. ” We did fashion shows like Oscar de la Renta, where our whole team was invited to do hair. ”
While Dritan was in the midst of photo shoots, soirees and fashion shows in southern California, his family made a decision that would change his life and career path forever.
“ When my parents told me they were moving to Pittsburgh, I didnt even know where it was, but I knew that we had cousins and family in Pittsburgh, and since we are Albanians that is what we do, we stick together, ” explained Dritan. “ So, I moved to Pittsburgh with my parents, and I have learned to love it here. It is a sweet city, and I feel that I have learned a lot from the people of Pittsburgh, and that is why I feel the people of Pittsburgh deserve more, they deserve a "guarantee in quality service" ! ”
Since the evolution of his career, Dritan has spent over a decade in the Pittsburgh area. He has practiced and exercised his talent at some of the city’s good salons, but still saw the opportunity to provide guests with the most up-to-date styles and services in a better and much more chic environment.
“ I have always felt that I could do more; felt that I could attend to people better if I open a salon where I can build a team that truly has passion. A team that understands that it is a privilege to attend to the guests. Without our guest, we as professionals would not be able to exercise our passion for beauty. ”
Dritan opened his Pittsburgh salon in November of 2008, and has been working to assemble a team of hair stylists with a desire to be the best.
He believes the most important thing is to truly care about helping people and making their lives better. Which was the same passion that shaped his career years ago.
Since the opening of Azemi Salons in 2008, the business has expanded and the salon now offers spa services.
Dritan realizes the influence that Adam Shuman has had on his life. He hopes to pass his knowledge and nurture his stylists, by offering them the same priceless opportunities for education, growth and improvement.
“ Azemi Salons, will help to develop its employees that seek knowledge and understanding in technical skills, mechanical skills, free-style techniques, operating skills and more ... ” said Dritan. “ I want to give my stylists the opportunity not only to realize our collective goals as a salon, but also push themselves to achieve the kind of success that depends solely on their own personal will. A kind of attitude for beauty, that is self inspired, a spark. ”
To Azemi Salons, being a leader in the salon industry means finding your way to the top by always staying ahead. Never settling, and continuously striving to bring our guest the best.
" With a pursuit to excellence we will exceed the expectations of our guests. This salon/spa will not settle for less than perfection. We will strive to reach new heights. "
" I feel that I have a lot more to give...! " said Dritan.
-Interview edited by Nicole Salopek-