Conversations With.... Mari de Monte
Updated: Aug 27
In this series, I interview kick-ass people who are willing to put themselves out there & confess their stories.
Our Guest: Mari de Monte (@mdm_grooming)
Her attention to detail & precision when it comes to men's cutting... Her unique style and love for music... Her impressive knowledge of art and ...rats?!
These are only a few of the incredible things I learned about Mari de Monte during this conversation.
And we are just hitting the surface on the kind of impact she will bring to those watching her story unfold!
••Who is behind mdm grooming?
"Me! Mari de Monte."
••What do you classify yourself as in your industry?
(ex. influencer/artist/barber/educator) "Aiming for all of them to be honest!"
••What company do you work for?
"For a year now, I am officially working for myself. Before that, I was the head senior stylist at Fleischman, A Men's Salon, for 5 years. And before that, I was the first stylists trained under Martial Vivot to work at his self named shop. He still is one of my favorite mentors."
••How many years have you devoted to this craft?
"I have been doing men's grooming for over 14 years now."
••What kind of impact do you want to have for those watching your journey unfold?
"I want people to hold the industry more accountable. I don't believe anyone should be charging less that $50 dollars a hair cut and for every person that doesn't push themselves and their prices, it lowers the expectations of the entire industry. I want others to look at someone like me, who can charge more and I want them to pick up things that I've done that they can make their own the elevate their own standards."
••What do you love about your career?
"I love making people feel good around me. I love making my clients feel better about their looks and their hair. I love elevating people around me. I love the artistic dynamic of men's grooming. Now more so than ever before, people are creating amazing looks and textures to an industry that was built around cookie cutter styles for years. The combination that my artistic abilities can make other people feel great is an incredible feeling."
••What inspires/motivates you?
"I grew up in a really creative home. My mother is an art teacher and amazing artist and my father who was originally born in Liverpool England, was a roadie in the 70's for Donna Summers, Elton John and others. They both have played a huge role on where I seek inspiration. I love collecting records and looking at art, finding new artists who inspire me. My clients are the ones that keep me motivated. Having a close relationship with my clients is one of my favorite things, making them feel better about themselves and more confident is what keeps me motivated to keep going with my craft."
"'I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.' -Georgia O'Keeffe. Stepping out and leaving the comfort of a salon was one of the scariest things I've ever done. Moving to New York at the age of 19 with little to no friends and not for school was terrifying. Without these terrifying moments in my life, I wouldn't be the artist I am now. The creative mind that I am now. I know I have so much more to accomplish and that will mean many more terrifying changes, but I can't let those short weak moments stop me from what I'm supposed to be doing."
••What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
"One of the things I have been pretty mindful of is that work hustle doesn't always engage or enhance work itself. I have been very good about keeping up with passions outside the hair community and noticed sometimes the less I mindlessly 'hustle' and focus on other things, the more inspired I am in the studio. Running is a huge passion of mine ever since I was 13 years old. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world to different running events and races, meeting other runners and running communities. I collect records and DJ all over New York City, I've kept up with my art as much as I could and even once showed some pieces in a gallery in Brooklyn. I just started taking fiddle lessons in hopes to some day play with others in a blue grass band. All these side projects and events keep my mind fresh and inspired for when I stand behind the chair. I have been lucky enough to not regret missing out on other hobbies because of work."
••If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
"If I had extra time, I would read so much more and call my mother back more often."
••What is something people don’t know about you that you don’t mind sharing?
"I am a pet rat enthusiast. I have had pet rats almost all my life. After my last one passed away a few years ago, I figured it would be time to get an 'adult' pet of two cats. But I still stand by that rats are way better pets. "
••What were you like in high school?
"The beginning of high school was pretty rough for me. Very awkward, a late bloomer, unsure of my body and myself, and the summer between sophomore and junior year happened and I got really into the hardcore/punk music scene in Syracuse New York and really felt connected with the community there. After that I really enjoyed high school. I was really into art and theater. My parents were always very trustworthy of me and let me work at a record shop downtown and stay out in bars to watch local bands. I never had much of an issue with anyone in school, I felt like I was pretty connected with all of the cliques and a social butterfly. Its funny to admit this, but I was prom queen and homecoming queen and president of the drama club. High school was a lot of fun for me and the major years that started to answer the questions of who I wanted to be later in years."
••What do you consider to be your best find?
"My little apartment in Brooklyn (which sadly we are moving out of!). It was the first time I ever lived on my own. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to find an apartment in the area. I remember the day I moved in eight years ago, with very little furniture and the sun light spilling into my kitchen and really feeling that I had finally 'made it' in the city."
••What’s your favorite piece of clothing you own/owned?
"I love love love love my hats. I have a deep pride for them. My schotts leather jacket which was a gift to myself on my 30th birthday and my father's old Donna Summers tour jacket."
••When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?
"Usually hair related questions (length and style), high-end industry questions (how do you charge what you charge?) or running questions (my knee hurts what do I do? I need to run 15 miles tomorrow do you want to come?)."
••What are some small things that make your day better?
"Lemon water and sitting and reading on the subway commute. Oh and beef jerky."
••Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
"I would say, Andrew from @andrewdoeshair and my grandmother. The woman who I'm named after. She originally was from Burma (now Myanmar) and watched her entire home and family perish during the war. She fled Burma and went through an amazing journey where she ended as the head nurse in Liverpool England and raised two amazing children. My aunt Carole and my father. She was tough as nails and every time I see my name it is a reminder of her and her struggles and the incredible accomplishments in her long life."
••What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?
"I will read pretty much anything. Classic fiction, books on music and history are some of my favorites."
••What’s your favorite kind of music?
"Country music from the early 1900's till the 80's. After that everything is traaash. And the New York punk scene circa late 70's"
••How often do you people watch?
"Everyday all day."
••What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
••What’s the best way to start the day?
"Cup of tea, a good record on the turn table, a clean apartment and a good run."
••What fad or trend do you hope comes back?
"I want longer haircuts to come back. That 70's shag or 'too cool to care' hair. I need more movement and texture out there."
••What kind of art do you enjoy most?
"Ugh.... I don't know if I can answer that. I love Georiga O'keeffe and her vibrant colors but my favorite paintings of hers are her lesser known water colors and more blues and mute whites. I love woodblock printing and have made a few prints myself. I love hair as an art form. I love music as an art form. Art truly is every where around us and I love the look of a brush stroke or a pencil mark or a held note, it's all the start of something really amazing."
••What city would you most like to live in?
"Berlin!!!!!! Or Nashville!"
••Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
"Because New York is the best god damn city in the world."
••Where would you spend all your time if you could?
"I would travel more if I could. If I could spend all my time on a train or boat on the way to something else. Or at my favorite seat at my favorite local bar, Black Rabbit"
••What are you absolutely determined to do?
"Travel more, talk more, push myself more, to pick my happiness more."
What is a one last piece of advice you want to give to the readers!?
"KEEP MOVING FORWARD."