Bonjour, comment-allez vous?
On a recent Wednesday, two women sit on leather chairs with foil on their heads. Suddenly a brown-haired stylist says with a strong French accent, "Madame Medeiros, it’s time to rinse your colour."
About 50,000 French expats live in Miami-Dade County, according to the French Consulate in Miami. They open shops and restaurants as a way to bring home and their culture to South Florida.
The Nikita Salon, in South Miami, is one such place. Clients say they love the salon because they like to hear and practice French with the employees.
"I have been coming here for a few years now and really enjoy it. The French are pretty detailed, they are meticulous, so they do a good job, they pay attention," says longtime customer and Miami resident Bryan May.
Nathalie Gonet-Dugourd opened Nikita salon 17 years ago on Sunset Drive. She says one of the reasons the French community thrives in Miami is because it's an easy place to open a business. She says she can also enroll her kids in bilingual French/American schools.
"When we open a business here, in the USA, we have less charges to pay for the employees, it’s very attractive for us, French people," Gonet-Dugourd says. "Moreover, in Florida we found a school that provided free French/English programs, it was the only place in the U.S. doing that."
She says her salon is doing well due to French techniques, especially for short haircuts. "When customers ask for short haircuts, French stylists bring techniques and a savoir-faire that American stylists don’t have," says Gonet-Dugourd.
Sicilia Medeiros, who recently to Miami from Portugal, says she feels comfortable at the salon. “It’s like going in Portugal to a salon," says Medeiros.
Following the French custom, Nikita salon doesn’t require an appointment for haircuts.
"In France salons have to be open all day so people can come anytime. It’s the same here. If a client wants a haircut before going to the restaurant or go shopping, it’s possible!"