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A Cut Above the Rest

Sulimay’s Studio on Main offers high-end services with a family-friendly atmosphere. By Megan Douress • Photos by Melissa Kelly Photography ( Since 2014, Sulimay’s Studio on Main has been welcoming clients and families of all ages into their quaint salon. Upon entering 4233 Main Street, you’re guaranteed to be greeted with a warm smile, a cold beverage, and sometimes, even a hug — similar to walking into a family member’s home. For owner Tara Sulimay Acosta, treating customers like family has always been part of her business plan. “My great-grandfather was a barber, my grandfather was a barber, my father was a barber, and I chimed in with my dad about 22 years ago,” Tara explained of her family history in the industry. Tara’s grandfather opened Tony’s Barbershop at 29th and Lehigh Streets long before Tara was even born. Tara’s father followed in his dad’s footsteps when he opened Jimmy Sulimay’s Barber Shop at 24th and Brown Streets in 1962. Thirty-five years later, Tara attended cosmetology school at Jean Madeline Aveda Institute and joined the family business. “I wasn’t always interested in the industry — I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Tara laughed. “I would’ve loved to get into fashion design — it’s definitely a love of mine. Instead of attending college, Tara’s father influenced her to go to cosmetology school with the hope that Tara would take over one day. At the age of 75, nearly 20 years later, he was ready to retire. It’s been 22 years since Tara took over her dad’s barber shop in Fairmount, but the transition from a one-chair barbershop into a salon wasn’t easy. 24 | Fall 2018

“It was a barbershop for all these years and women were like, ‘We can’t go there. It’s a barbershop!’ while the men were saying, ‘What are they doing here?’” Tara laughed. “My friends would brave it and come in.” Tara isn’t the only one who took the family business and evolved it into what it is today. She has a handful of cousins who took the same career path, with Sulimay family-owned salons in Fishtown, Huntington Valley, and Chalfont. Tara’s daughter, Cianna, is also a graduate of Jean Madeline and works at both the Manayunk and Fairmount locations. So, how does she make her Manayunk location, now in its fourth year of operation, stand out upon her family-friendly competition? “We try to make it a fun experience but also a comfortable experience,” Tara explained. “We’re therapists — absolutely. If someone’s having a bad day, we try to promote a positive outlook or a positive attitude. When clients leave, they have their hair done and that’s a great feeling as it is. It’s a boost — when you look better, you feel better. We’re a safe space that people find mentally enlightening.” Tara credits the extra personal experience of her clients to her staff, who she said she found by “pure luck.” “I have a great team,” Tara said. “That’s key. They’re all passionate, professional, talented, and fun!” Tara has high standards for the stylists she brings in, most of which are also graduates of Jean Madeline. They are certified in Sassoon, MAC Makeup, Mas-

Manayunk Magazine | Fall 2018 Edition  
Manayunk Magazine | Fall 2018 Edition