The last several years have brought forth a variety of challenges to all aspects of cosmetology, an extremely social industry with a foundation of high contact, in-person services. While many businesses struggled to survive the pandemic, educator and salon and school owner Paul DiGrigoli saw an opportunity for re-direction and growth.
The son of a barber, DiGrigoli began his career in the 1980s, opening his first salon in 1986. After many years behind the chair and as an owner, DiGrigoli Salon re-located to Riverdale Street in West Springfield, MA in 2000. Two years later, the salon began to share their space with DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology. For 20 years, the two businesses worked in tandem, attending and hosting cut-a-thons and charitable events, together with many school graduates moving over to the professional salon to begin their careers. The school flourished, creating and supporting thousands of cosmetologists, and was recognized six years in a row by MODERN SALON for Excellence in Education. DiGrigoli also made a name for himself in the hair show circuit, with his "booked solid" programs packing classrooms across the country.
In this time, DiGrigoli, with the help of experienced chemists and his staff, created his own hair care line. Paul Joseph Professional launched in February of 2018 with seven products: three shampoos, two conditioners, one leave-in treatment and one blow-dry spray. The line, formulated with natural and safe ingredients, and with its own built-in educational program, was available across the country in about 20 salons and schools. Soon followed an addition of a carrot and argan oil serum, a quinoa infused hairspray, and an argan and coconut oil pomade. The expansion continues in 2022 with several new products in the works.
Educating Future Beauty Pros
In the years leading up to and during the pandemic, many local cosmetology schools were forced to close their doors. At a time when people were looking to change their careers or advance their education, the options in western Massachusetts dwindled. So DiGrigoli had a decision to make, and in 2022 he announced the expansion of DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology, a new facility, more space for students and clients, and the addition of two new programs: nails and esthetics.
More space was needed to accommodate the new school programs. DiGrigoli Salon officially closed on February 26, 2022. The closing was bittersweet, but the future of the DiGrigoli brand was bright. "We're excited to welcome new components of the beauty industry - the nails and esthetics - to our company," said DiGrigoli of the expansion. "The creative people of the area need an outlet for their passion. The goal is to get them working in an industry they can grow and flourish in."
Construction is currently underway, but the education and student salon services will continue as normal with the next class starting July 5th. The nails and esthetics programs are projected to be up and running in fall of this year, and prospective students are inquiring regularly. "We have always had a demand for nail and esthetic programs, and we're happy to finally have a place for them here," added Amy Morgan, school director.
This next chapter for DiGrigoli may have its own challenges in the post-pandemic world, but the advantages outweigh the negatives. DiGrigoli has been back on the road in 2022, speaking at cosmetology schools, salons, and Premiere Orlando in June. With the constant travel, a school expansion, and the continuous work on new and exciting products for Paul Joseph Professional, it may seem like a huge undertaking for this veteran of the industry. But to that he says: "I'm not retiring - I'm re-firing."
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