55 Years Of Beauty

Andre Nizetich poses next to an old-fashioned hair dryer at his San Pedro studio. (photo by Joshua Stecker)

Andre Nizetich takes a break from cutting hair foils in the back of the busy Western Avenue salon that bears his name. The energetic hairdresser scrolls through his iPhone as we sit down to chat – he’s busy planning his next hair summit.

You wouldn’t know he is 78 and has been cutting hair since 1957. You also wouldn’t know the San Pedro native is a nationally renowned hair color expert and educator.

Retrospective questions about his career take a turn to the present and soon he is deep in discussion about the latest trend of ammonia-free at-home hair color. Nizetich’s endless fascination with the hair industry keeps him on his toes, and it all began, of all places, at the U.S. Coast Guard station on Terminal Island.

“When I was in the service stationed at Terminal Island, a guy there told me I should go to El Camino College because they had a great cosmetology program,” he remembers.

The idea struck a chord with something he’d been told years earlier, before he worked for Ford Motors, Douglas Aircraft and Green Hills cemetery. When he was a student at San Pedro High School, Nizetich was told by a school counselor that he should find an artistic career that involved working with his hands.

“I thought it sounded like a fit, so I followed his advice,” he says.

A few years later, fresh out of cosmetology school, newly married and with a baby, Nizetich found himself a rare male hairdresser in a female-dominated industry. He took a job at Virginia’s Beauty Salon on Gaffey Street, where owner Myrtle Klages encouraged him.

“I was one of the few males in the business and I got a ribbing for it, but it served me well,” he recalls. “I was busy right away.”

Four years later in 1961, Nizetich took a gamble and opened his own salon in Redondo Beach. So began Andres Coiffures (later Andres Hair Studio) and the innovative coloring techniques that would lead to patents and acclaim.

Frustrated with traditional highlighting methods, Nizetich invented a device in the early ‘70s called the Super Streak, which was later sold to Clairol (he also invented and patented the hair foil cutting machine he was using earlier). In the process, he began seriously studying hair color, taking matters into his own hands, literally.

“I got a lot of hair and I made swatches, I even got a microscope and put the hair under it when I colored it to look at it to see what happened,” he says. “I found out that all the information we were getting about what happens with hair color was inaccurate.”

He challenged authority and questioned what hair color manufacturers taught.

“I knew that what they were teaching was wrong and it was really hindering the learning process,” he says.

Nizetich’s studies would become the basis of the curriculum of the American Board of Certified Hair Colorists, where he is president. Today, he travels the country teaching hair colorists and administering the board’s stringent exam. His own salon, which relocated to San Pedro, has six board certified colorists, the most of any in Southern California.

Nizetich still conducts hair experiments in his free time and presents the findings at his annual hair summit, which draws hundreds. He’s written books, made DVDs and still takes some of his longtime clients at the salon.

Julie Lazarof and Kris McGinnis have worked with Nizetich for over 20 years and now own Andres Hair Studio. They’re both amazed at how passionate he still is in training younger staff members. Both say he’s an inspiration because he still finds joy and new ideas in their industry, even after 50 years.

“He’s such an inspiration and he teaches us so much,” says stylist Jenna Lusic. “He’s also really funny.”

Nizetich has been married to his wife Joann for 56 years. His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are some of the salon’s regular clients.

“It’s a joy working with the people I work with,” he says. “And I would like to thank all of my clients past and present for their support and for putting up with me.”

Nizetich with Regis Philbin on AM Los Angeles circa 1970s. (photo provided by Andre Nizetich)

Nizetich says his best advice for aspiring hairdressers is actually to avoid beauty school. “This sounds crazy, but there are literally thousands of people going to beauty school and they never go to work because there are no jobs. Go to a salon you want to work at and volunteer to work for free doing what you can; be the first one there in the morning, and the last one to leave. Do that for six weeks, then ask the owner if they will hire you as an apprentice.”

And while it wasn’t easy being a male hair dresser in the 1950s (“My father never forgave me for it. He wanted me to be a fisherman,” Nizetich quips), or going up against the might of big-name hair color manufacturers in the name of education, Nizetich says his career has been nothing but fulfilling.

“I’m working pretty hard to uplift professional hair color and give it a better reputation,” he says. “I’ve never regretted it, I’ve had a lot of fun and it’s been great being able to make people, whether clients or hair dressers, feel better about themselves.” spt

Andres Hair Studio is located at 28146 S. Western Ave. For more info, call (310) 547-1168 or visit www.andreshairstudio.com.

A Lifetime in the Making

(photos by John Mattera Photography)

Ryan and Jenna Lusic’s love was a lifetime in the making. Having both come from Croatian families and being raised in San Pedro, Ryan and Jenna grew up knowing each other, and working alongside the other’s family.
The history between their families runs deep, as both of their didas (grandfathers) were involved with the Dalmatian-American Club. Ryan’s dida ran the catering for the club with Jenna’s mom and aunt both waitressing for him. When he passed away, Ryan’s dad and two uncles took over and Jenna, her sister and cousins began work there while Ryan bartended. Likewise, Jenna’s dida was the manager at Glendale Federal Bank where Ryan’s mom worked for many years.

However, it wasn’t until Jenna and Ryan worked together a second time that they realized they wanted more than a friendship.

Jenna, 26, daughter of Tim and Margie Meadows, began working at the Trump National Golf Club when she was 18. Ryan (or “Hatch” – a nickname given by his dad when he was born because of his “hatchet head”), 31, son of Nick and Kris Lusic, began working at Trump when he was 20. But because he is five years older than Jenna, he had already been working at Trump for three years by the time Jenna joined the staff.

The staff would often get together after work to hang out, which resulted in Hatch and Jenna’s friendship blooming into something more. In May 2006, they began dating. As Jenna would puts it, “Everything just fell into place.” So much so, they got their first dog, Bailey, together the very next year. In 2008, they took their relationship to the next level and moved in together. Then came their beautiful daughter Camryn in June 2009, an addition to their lives that brought much joy.

“We knew we did things a little out of order,” admits Jenna. “But to us, we were committed to each other, and marriage wasn’t a big priority at the time.” That is, until Hatch surprised her with a marriage proposal in October 2011.

Here’s how it went down: Hatch and Jenna, as well as all of Hatch’s family, met at Trump’s for dinner, celebrating his sister and brother-in-law’s seven-year wedding anniversary. The setting wasn’t unusual to Jenna as they often went to Trump’s for dinner. Hatch took Camryn to the back to show her off to the cooks (one of which was Jenna’s cousin Matt). This too was not unusual as Hatch still worked at Trump’s and liked to show Camryn off whenever she was around. Five minutes later, Camryn waddled of the kitchen holding a black box. Close behind were Hatch and Matt, who had a dessert platter in his hand. When Matt put the plate down, Jenna read “Will You Marry Me, Jenna?” spelled out in chocolate syrup. Hatch got down on one knee and proposed only to be answered with an exclamatory “YES!”

“Hatch did such a good job of surprising me,” says Jenna. “He really threw me off by using his sister’s anniversary as an excuse and having his whole family there.” It wasn’t long after that they decided to get married on April 14, 2012, a date that has significant meaning as Jenna had to get married on an “even numbered day.”

“I have a weird superstition with even numbers,” she explains. “I was born on February 4, 1986, was one of four kids, and had an even number on my basketball jersey in high school. I’m sure it’s the OCD in me but everything has to be even numbered – even the number of the gas pump I pull up to. So my wedding day was no different.” Not only is April 14 an even date, it’s also Hatch’s birthday, a factor that made the day even more special.

Having grown up in San Pedro, Hatch and Jenna couldn’t imagine celebrating their day anywhere else. Their ceremony, which was at Trump’s, hosted 300 guests and featured numerous meaningful moments, including Hatch walking Camryn down the aisle, something he was adamant about doing knowing he’d only get the chance to do so one other time in his life when she gets married. Then, as Jenna began her walk down the aisle – to the tune of Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” – Hatch met her half way, coming to the altar as one. Additionally, their close friend Jason Dorio conducted the ceremony, and Jenna’s grandmother Joann and uncle Mike said a prayer and shared a blessing during the ceremony.

Hatch and Jenna also wanted to include all of their closest relatives and friends within the bridal party. On Jenna’s side were Maid of Honor Andria Kordic (Hatch’s sister) and Bridesmaids Katie Barich, Kelsie Barich, Christina LoGrande, Heather Thomas, Leea Sarmiento, Selena DeHart, Meghan Smith, Krysalynn Brown, Cara Williams, Danielle Herrera, and Breanna Stipicevich. Junior bridesmaid was Karly Kordic, and the flower girls were Camryn Lusic and Kelsey Kordic.

On Hatch’s side were Best Men Steve Kordic and Chris Lusic, and Groomsmen Matt Meadows, Rick Sysak, Bobby Fain, Danny Fain, Rob Piñel, David Hernandez, Ryan Diaz, Matt Bommarito, Aaron Reynolds, and Danny Sandoval. The ring bearer was Steven Kordic.

The day continued with the reception at Michael’s Tuscany Room, where guests enjoyed taking photos in a photo booth and danced well into the night. “Everything about our day was great,” gushes Jenna. “Our bridal party was amazing and everything just went our way.”

The newlyweds honeymooned in Las Vegas for three days, where they stayed at the New York New York Hotel and Casino and went zip lining and rode roller coasters.

Currently, Hatch and Jenna reside in San Pedro and are excited as Camryn enters pre-school this year. Jenna is a hair stylist at Andre’s Hair Studio, and Hatch is still bartending at Trump’s, works as a longshoreman, and sometimes DJs at places such as Crimson and San Pedro Brewing Co. on the side. There’s also a possibility of Baby #2 sometime next year.

“It’s funny how you can go your whole life thinking marriage was just about a piece of paper,” says Jenna. “But it really is more of an affirmation to each other. It’s special to be husband and wife and it makes the everyday routine more meaningful.” spt