You can tell someone is light years away from the modesty of their former life when a party they’re hosting is attended by the country’s No. 2, his congresswoman daughter and mayor son, Kris Aquino, and, on top of that, Manila’s “It” girls.
Indeed Jing Monis’ days as salon shampoo boy are now distant past. The celebrity stylist, who counts Aquino, Anne Curtis, Georgina Wilson, Judy Ann Santos and Sarah Geronimo among his clients, has just opened his second eponymous salon at The Bellevue Manila. Among his VIP guests were Vice President Jojo Binay and his children.
The VP’s presence seemed an oddity at a party littered with fashionistas, but his wife and children are clients and bosom friends, according to Monis.
The Alabang outpost will cater to Monis’ affluent clients in the south, a long overdue follow-up to his Greenbelt 1 Makati salon, which opened in 2009.
At the poolside cocktails adjacent to the new salon on the hotel’s third level, Monis treated guests to a screening of 40-second fashion and beauty shorts that underscored his philosophy: that “every hair has a different story.”
The films, directed by a trio of young filmmakers called Midnight Bonkers, feature veteran models Tweetie Gonzalez and Jo Ann Bitagcol, starlet Lovi Poe, beauty queen Wendy Tabusalla, model Georgina Wilson, socialite and TV host Divine Lee, fashion blogger Laureen Uy, actress Mylene Dizon, fashion stylist Pam Quiñones and model Fabio Ide. (The films can be viewed onthejingmonissalon.com.)
A couple of Monis’ muses—model Bea Soriano and fashion stylist Liz Uy—were also around. Uy and Soriano, with Anne Curtis, Georgina Wilson and Solenn Heussaff, have appeared on a billboard for Monis’ salon, sporting identical glamorous long, wavy manes.
But Monis is quick to clarify that he’s not out to make clones of these It girls. “I tell my [non-celebrity] clients that I can give you the cut of Anne or George, but you don’t have the same head shape, pigmentation, etc., so it might not come out the same,” Monis says. “It has to be adjusted to your personality and your lifestyle. The most important thing for me is that hair should move.”
Filipinas, however, are generally afraid to change their hairstyle. “They say, ‘Give me a new look,’ and then they rattle off a list of things I cannot do,” Monis says wryly. “So I do it step-by-step. I say, okay I’ll do this today, but next time we should do this. That happens quite a lot until I gain their full trust.”
Monis was responsible for giving Sarah Geronimo her first makeover when she was just 15, before the singer-actress was launched to stardom. Top celebrity endorsers often rely on him for their looks for TVCs and print ads.
A cut, Monis stresses, comes out best when it gets the right color. For the holidays, the trend will be deep colors in red tones mixed with gold and ash tones.
Women wanting to go short can take “Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson’s pixie cut as their peg, he suggests.
But if you wish to keep your hair long, the trend points to lots of layers and waves, he adds.
Monis’ hairstyling career began at age 17 when he worked part-time on weekends as a shampoo boy at Varona’s, a popular salon in the ’80s where his mother worked as hairdresser.
A stint that began as a way to get extra allowance for his frequent night-outs—Monis is a self-confessed party boy—would also become his means to support himself through university, where he majored in Business Administration.
The fifth of six children, Monis would also help support his siblings through college, with his hairstyling job.
In the early years, Monis worked as manager of boutique where, in the backroom, he would cut the hair of some clients. It was there that he met Henri Calayag, who encouraged him to hone his skills.
When Calayag opened his salon, he invited Monis to join him. “I’ll never forget what Henri told me—‘You will go places.’”
Apart from Monis’ own mother, it is Calayag whom Monis credits for his success.
At the start, Monis went to HK to study hair cutting. There he met an agent who booked him for various shoots and fashion shows.
For years, the young man would shuttle between HK and Manila (where he worked at Rodger Craig Salon). But the tedious lifestyle would soon take its toll. He also missed his children, now age 22 and 19 (he also has a two-year-old grandson, whom he dotes on).
In the late 1990s, Monis and his colleagues in makeup and hairstyle—Juan Sarte, Marlon Rivera, Jay Lozada and Cristine Duque—opened Propaganda at Rustan’s Makati. After two years, they moved to Greenbelt 1.
In 2009, the group decided to dissolve the partnership and give Monis full control of the salon, then renamed after him.
It was a huge responsibility to suddenly be running a salon, says Monis, but his business studies came in handy. He now has a staff of 30. He continues to take courses overseas; recently, he finished the Schwarzkopf master course in London.
“Never stop learning,” he advises young hairstylists. “Go to school and train continuously. I’m going to school again next year. I’m always studying because I want my staff to also learn from me.”
On his success, he says, “It’s important to look back where you started. Use and share your talent. Cherish your family. And to those below you, give them respect and help them to grow.”