Salon Owners' Secrets: Frank Gruber

How the owner of Avante Salon and Spa in West Chester and Exton got his start.

In 1975, 19-year old Frank Gruber had hair down to his shoulders and was playing in a rock band. By day, Gruber worked as a rough-and-tumble roofer, so it was something of a surprise when he enrolled in cosmetology school. “I had a real interest in hair, but didn’t think it could be a career for me until a friend’s wife said, ‘Just go to beauty school already!’ and got me the application,” Gruber says. His entrepreneurial talents were apparent in his first job as a shampoo boy at Hair Ltd. on North Church Street in West Chester. “I kept asking the owner when I’d have a chair and he said, ‘When you’re ready,’ but he didn’t tell me what I’d have to do to become ready.” Gruber had good reason for wanting a chair. He’d been cutting hair for students at West Chester University. “I put all of their names in a binder and showed the owner six pages filled with clients,” he remembers. “I said, ‘I can’t cut them here because you won’t give me a chair.’ He gave me one the next day.” Gruber didn’t stay there long. In 1978, he opened his first salon, The Klip Joint, which would later evolve into the first Avante Salon.

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