This fall, two ISBN Board of Trustees members will have completed the maximum consecutive years of service on the board, Tony Fiorentino of Hello Gorgeous Salons and Larry Walt of Design 1 Salon Spa. In the second of this two-part series, ISBN pays tribute to Fiorentino and gathers insights from him and some of the board members who have served with him through the years.
Early this year, Tony and Lisa Fiorentino celebrated the 23rd anniversary of Hello Gorgeous!, with four salons and two wellness spas across south New Jersey. On January 26, they gathered their entire team for a formal 2020 HG Gala at Harrahs in Atlantic City to recognize and reward every single one, paying special tribute to those who have been part of the Hello Gorgeous family for 20 years.
With a culture built from such loyalty, longevity, service and innovation, it’s not surprising that the Fiorentinos model those values so well themselves. They have been members of ISBN for 15 years, and Tony has served on the ISBN board for 12.
“We started out in 1997 with one 600-square-foot salons and six stylists,” Tony Fiorentino says. “Now we are at 27,000 square feet across four salons and two wellness spas with 130 associates. We’ve grown and seen a lot of changes, and ISBN has been a valuable part of that growth.”
In addition to the networking and education at Conference and other ISBN resources, Fiorentino says he and Lisa appreciate that other industry leaders like Gordon Logan, Scott Missad, Phil Horvath and Jayne Morehouse have come to visit them at Hello Gorgeous over the years. “They made suggestions and we’ve bounced ideas off of each other. Personal connections have developed into lifelong friendships. You just can’t get that with any other organization. The chance to engage and interact with such amazing people and the relationships that develop are the biggest and best takeaway.”
Serving on the ISBN board of trustees only strengthens and deepens those connections and access, Fiorentino says. “Especially now, through the pandemic situation, I was constantly on the phone or texting to share ideas and talk through things like PPE, staffing and numbers with Henry Pelusi and Philip Gould, who were previously on the board with me, and with Larry Walt who has served with me the same 12-year span. Sometimes we check or challenge each other, but usually it is just great to hear from someone who is in the same boat as you and basically the same size or structure.” Gaining perspective from a different model, like a franchise or larger operation, is a valuable ISBN benefit, too, Fiorentino says.
“I think anyone considering joining ISBN or attending the next Conference would be amazed by the fact that they would instantly be interacting with the movers and shakers who created or are now leading such powerful businesses,” he says. “ISBN resources , programming and content are great, but the wealth of information shared in the social hours and follow-up conversations are the heart and pulse of ISBN. Everyone is so honest and forthcoming with their experiences, about what’s working in the business and what’s not working.”
COPING SKILLS: Such insights are even more valuable during such uncertain times, he adds. “We’re only four weeks into reopening, and our numbers are still strong. But I’m hearing from others in different pockets of the country about 30-40 percent drops in revenue, about losing staff. It’s a tough time to navigate, but easier because of having ISBN friends to commiserate.”
Another way that Fiorentino has commiserated and connected with ISBN colleagues has been by sharing his passion for music. He plays guitar and and performs professionally with a duo, trio or four-piece band, something he describes as an important part of his life. “It is my therapy outside of work,” he says and, in normal times, he averages about 100 shows per year. This summer, he’s still playing some outdoor, social-distanced gigs at local wineries and other approved venues.
When ISBN members next are able to gather in person, expect to hear Fiorentino strumming an impromptu evening session, either outside around a fire pit or in a cozy corner of the resort lobby. What he says started as “a bit of a joke” with friend, fellow guitarist and board member at the time Mark Kartarik at an ISBN Conference on Amelia Island years ago has turned into a popular and fond tradition among regular attendees. “You might hear a little Eagles, some Walking in Memphis,” he recalls from the first ISBN sing-alongs.
For both the business support and the personal relationships, he says “Lisa and I will be there, still involved with ISBN and still connecting.”
PAYING TRIBUTE: ISBN Board Colleagues Reflect on Time with Tony Fiorentino
“I served with Tony on the ISBN board for six years, four years of that I was serving as president. I always found Tony and Lisa to be engaged, enthusiastic and loaded with interesting insights on the business aspects of our industry. Their success in building Hello Gorgeous! into one of the premier salons and spas in central New Jersey was inspiring, and they were full of new and innovative ideas about how to improve their business. I was introduced to the flotation spa concept by Tony and Lisa, not to mention salt rooms and other services that were cutting edge at the time to complement their traditional salon and spa services. When I visited their premier location, I was very impressed with the professionalism and family feel that made everyone comfortable the minute they walked in the door. I very much enjoyed working with Tony during our time together on the board, and always found him willing to go the extra mile to share his story and successes with our members, which is the foundation of ISBN’s success over the decades. Since I’ve been off the board, I’ve missed seeing Tony on a regular basis at board meetings, but visiting with Tony and Lisa is one of the reasons why I look forward to our conference each year.” – Gordon Logan, Chairman and Founder, Sport Clips
“Tony Fiorentino is one of the most humble and unassuming successful people I know. So much so that when his wife Lisa took me on a tour of their spas, I was absolutely blown away by their grandeur. Yet, like Tony and Lisa themselves, their beautiful locations welcome you like you’re family. They’re cozy, comfortable and complementary to Tony and Lisa themselves. In addition to their hair and beauty services, these visionaries were the first to bring Float Therapy to the salon and spa industry to give their clients a wellness-focused habit to replace tanning, so they feel good inside and out. But above all, Tony (and Lisa) are two of the most down-to-earth, caring people I’ve met through ISBN. They bring words like friendship, colleague and camaraderie to life. Whether making music after hours to share fellowship or sharing his most successful retailing or real estate tips, Tony truly epitomizes the personal relationships of ISBN.” – Jayne Morehouse, President of Jayne & Company and CEO, Beauty Industry Report
“Tony has always provided ISBN with valuable insights from a true entrepreneurial perspective balanced by a strong voice of reason. He is pragmatic in his own way, and lent that to the board. He was not always the loudest voice in the room, but when he spoke he added clarity. He’s also passionate about everything he does, and brings that passion to his business and is also just the kind of fun guy you’d want to hang around with on any given weekend. His music is a big part of that. Also, I spent a day at his operation and was struck by how people-first it is. He and Lisa lead very genuinely from the heart.” – Phil Horvath, past president, ISBN
“There is something about Tony’s style and warm personality that is so engaging. It must come from that musical talent! Tony was always so willing to jump in, to help facilitate meetings and keep us on track. Thank you for being a part of the great experience at ISBN!” – Rhoda Olsen, Vice Chair, Great Clips, Inc. and Past President, ISBN