The storefront of Fyubi is a siren song. People walking by this U Street NW address will stop in their tracks and find themselves strangely drawn to the downstairs space. The lower half of the building is visually different from everything else on U Street. A large window allows pedestrians to peer into a pure white room with gold accents. A chandelier sparkles and dangles from the ceiling. The heavenly design draws people through the front door just to ask, “what is this place?”
This place is the creative manifestation of owner and beauty specialist Flaminia Garioni. Garioni grew up in the beauty industry and previously worked in Georgetown as a makeup artist. As her reputation and roster of clients grew, she decided to start a business of her very own. Her studio specializes in makeup application, brow shaping, pedicures, and other services.
A tour of Fyubi delights the senses and epitomizes the concept of “approachable luxury.” Clients are ushered into a makeup room that looks like it belongs in Beverly Hills rather than the District. Just past the makeup room is a space with custom-designed pedicure chairs featuring high backs, deep seats, and individual docking stations for iPads. Bringing friends along to your appointment? They can lounge on comfy, pillow-laden couches. Fyubi imports Faby brand nail polishes straight from Italy (it’s currently the only retailer in the country carrying the highly-pigmented brand). Face masks made of natural ingredients are created in front of clients.
This type of beauty spot might appear to the untrained eye to be just another salon. But Garioni has accomplished something quite extraordinary, turning the service-driven concept of makeup-guru-on-the-go and repackaging it into a brick-and-mortar salon.
Garioni’s concept salon is timely; the beauty industry in general is undergoing a period of transformation. Instead of going to a department store to purchase products or learn about trends and techniques, customers are looking to other sources for beauty solutions: makeup artists have cult followings on YouTube, Instagram has become a viable platform for beauty professionals to make a name for themselves, and the eyebrow industry has taken off. Garioni has managed to capture the personality- and fan-based following of online beauty experts and combine it with an elegant retail service experience.
People who have been keeping tabs on the D.C. retail scene over the past few years will recognize that her store has already beaten the odds. Garioni—a female and minority business owner—has maintained a small business in an economy that still isn’t sure how to handle independent ventures. She has taken her talent for makeup application and eyebrow shaping and projected those skills into a physical space that supports her solo beauty efforts. That takes gumption, vision, and a new type of beauty industry leader. One like Flaminia Garioni.