"They always say the third generation ruins the business, so I’m trying to work through that stereotype,” Frank Rizzieri jokes. In fact, since taking over the beauty business his grandfather, Franco Cipriotti, began in 1924, he has expanded it enormously. Franco came to the U.S. from Italy and owned a farm in Pennsylvania before opening a barbering school. He saw that women’s hairdressing was about to take off, so he opened a cosmetology school in Philadelphia called Maison de Paris.
His business thrived, and even survived the Great Depression—“actually, he said it was the most money he’d ever made because women still got their hair done,” Frank says. In the late ’30s, the cosmetology school moved to New Jersey, the first in the state. Frank’s mother, Anna, taught there, and it’s where she met her husband, Sal Rizzieri—he emigrated from Italy in 1959 and attended the cosmetology school.
Joining the family business was nonnegotiable, despite teenage dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, but Frank grew to the love the industry. “When I got my head around being a hairdresser, I told my dad, I want to do more,” he says. “We had to come to an agreement—I was going to build something different, or I was going to leave.
Franco’s Barbering is an homage to Frank’s grandfather.
I took the opportunity to diversify the business, develop products, brand it, and open in New York and Florida. We took it from salons to schools to medical spas. I’m looking into distribution and expanding the medical spa, and I’m getting closer to having salon owner employees who will be my partners.”
Franco Cipriotti, who started the family business in the ’20s.
Today, the business has five-plus locations between salon/spas and schools, and Frank still works alongside his parents—Sal hops between different salons, and Anna teaches finger waving at the school and signs the checks. The family’s strong values is the secret to the salon’s longevity, Frank says. “Sometimes when new generations take over, they have a different work ethic or attitude from the core principles the business was founded on,” Frank says.
Maison de Paris was New Jersey’s first cosmetology school.
“My core principles are the same: work really hard, treat people well and give back.” Those tenets also checked the boxes to become an Aveda Concept Salon. “I remember sitting with [Aveda founder] Horst [Rechelbacher] in his house in Wisconsin in a snowstorm and showing him the plans for the new business,” Frank says. “It’s been a 25-plus-year relationship, and counting.” After all, the Rizzieris know a thing or two about long-term relationships.