When Miami-based hairstylist Melanie Adaros was in first grade, she had a large collection of Barbie dolls, but felt they all looked the same. So, she did what any other 6-year-old would do — cut their hair and gave them personal makeovers.
To her parents, it seemed like their child was destroying all the Barbies they got for her, so they stopped buying her dolls. All the Barbie ban did, however, was encourage Adaros to turn the scissors to her own hair.
“I gave myself bangs in first grade and then it just kind of evolved from there,” Adaros said.
At 25 years old, Adaros works as a hairstylist at the LUXE Color Lounge in Kendall, Fla. She specializes in alternative hairstyles, namely fantasy colors, mullets and shag hairstyles. At the same time, she’s also the bassist for SHIVVA, a shoegaze band based in South Florida.
While mullets and bright colors might not be the typical Miami look, Adaros has seen recent success because of the connections she has made at SHIVVA’s shows.
Adaros first pursued hairdressing during her freshman year of high school, where she joined Robert Morgan Educational Center’s cosmetology program. As Adaros took cosmetology classes in high school, she also gathered enough hours to graduate with her hairdressing license.
“When people ask how long I’ve been doing hair, it’s tricky because I’m like ‘technically, I’ve been licensed since I was 18,’” Adaros said. “But I’ve been doing hair for years before that, because I started my beauty school when I was 13 as a freshman. So it’s like, ‘11 years? Seven years? I don’t know.’”
Even then, she was creating and playing music on the side, mainly with a band she created with friends in high school called Ikigai.
While Adaros obtained a hairdresser license in high school, she felt pressured to go to college. Before realizing college wasn’t for her, she attended Miami Dade College and majored in English while also working as an assistant at a salon.
Shortly after, she decided to pursue hairdressing full time at a South Miami salon. After spending time closely assisting another stylist, she was urged by a friend in 2016 to join an assistant program at another salon, which typically takes about eight months to complete. Adaros did it in half the time due to her years of experience.
Shortly after her swift completion of the program, Adaros was promoted to a hairstylist. However, she was the odd one out due to her interest in fantasy colors rather than the blondes and balayage stylists typically did. While playing with Ikigai, Adaros was able to build a clientele of others that were willing to try out the looks that she was interested in.
Eventually, due to the clash of different creative visions, she left that salon and moved over to Luxe Color Lounge in 2019. She assisted the salon’s owner and lead stylist, Annette Madrid, for some time before regaining her title of hairdresser.
“I’ve just kept growing and growing and growing, and now I’m an educator,” Adaros said.
At Luxe, she was also able to do the looks she had always wanted to try without any pushback.
“I mean, I can do natural hair. I love making anyone feel beautiful and happy and feeling like themselves,” Adaros said. “But I think my passion is definitely with creative color and getting weird and getting to do weird haircuts.”
At this point, Adaros hadn’t been in the music scene for years. She had left Ikigai to focus on hairdressing in 2017. Although she was growing as a hairstylist, she felt she got to a point where all she ever did was work, putting a strain on her mental health.
“Your job should not be your only thing that you have going on,” Adaros said. “I would just wake up, force myself to get ready, go to work, have a good time at work and then come home and just collapse and die.”
Seeing herself falling into an unhealthy pattern and growing overwhelmed by her role as a confidant while cutting hair, she sought both therapy and a healthy creative outlet. That’s when she began to reach out to people to make music again.
“I started to want to do something more again and have another creative outlet,” Adaros said. “I started roller skating. I started doing jujitsu. And then, I met some people online that I had been following that I always thought were cool and I knew they had similar vibes as me.”
Monica Ferrer, SHIVVA’s lead vocalist and keyboardist, noticed Adaros on Instagram making music with some mutual friends and reached out to collaborate with a group of girls. While that never happened, Adaros later contacted Ferrer to ask if she wanted to play synth for a band she was trying to put together.
At the same time, Eddie Arce, SHIVVA’s guitarist, was also trying to start a band.
“She was in the scene, so I kind of knew of her,” Arce said of meeting Adaros. “We would just kind of say hi. But I officially met her because I posted on my story once asking people to start a band and she just reached out and was like ‘Oh, I play bass!’”
Adaros and Arce combined their search for band members, and Ferrer was soon added into the ensemble. With the addition of Adaros’s longtime friend Sebastian Crow as drummer, SHIVVA was officially born. In the year that they’ve been making music together, the band has played roughly 30 shows together.
“Music, that’s my hobby, but it’s also expression,” Adaros said. “Working with other people and letting all of our creative ideas flow and letting all those feelings out and letting everyone feel something — that’s a really great release for me.”
The lines between her career as a hairdresser and a participant in the music scene blur. People she meets at SHIVVA’s shows often end up making appointments at Luxe to get their hair styled by Adaros, especially since she creates the space for them to explore different ideas.
“It’s not intentional for me to be in the music scene to have clients,” Adaros said. “It’s just more, I’m around other creative people — other people that love expression, other people that think in similar ways that I do.”
Even Ferrer and Crow have gotten their hair done at Luxe. While Ferrer has not had Adaros cut her hair, she values the fact that alternative hairstylists like Adaros are emerging in South Florida.
Having been drawn to alternative aesthetics since she was younger, Ferrer cut and dyed her own hair because she couldn’t find a hairdresser that truly understood what she wanted.
“It’s nice that I can finally be part of a community of the same aesthetics that I like,” Ferrer said.
Today, Adaros finds herself in a happy place in both her career and her personal life. She’s aware that many of her clients come from word-of-mouth and she’s extremely grateful that people trust her with their hair.
“Now that I have energy, I just want to do everything,” Adaros said. “I don’t care. I’m going to make it happen if it just means having four hours asleep. I’ll be the best four hours asleep I have because I know the next day I’ll wake up and make people feel beautiful and do what I’ve been fighting for.”