Ronnie Riccadonna learned hair cutting by hanging out in his mom’s shop and watching what she did. He would cut his friends’ hair in the locker room at Brookfield High School.
Yet, he always resisted Theresa Riccadonna’s encouragement to become a barber. Instead, he fronted a rock band as a “poor man’s Alice Cooper,” tended bar, waited tables, fabricated metal, and did graphic design and event promotion.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and many barber and beauty shops closed down or reduced service hours, he found himself with scissors in his hands.
“I just started cutting hair in people’s garages and stuff,” Ronnie said.
He realized he enjoyed cutting hair, went to Raphael’s School of Beauty Culture in Niles for formal training, and got his license. He has reopened his mother’s shop at 2372 Sharon Hogue Road in Masury, and convinced Theresa to come out of retirement and work with him.
“He finally found his way without me,” Theresa said. “I’m just really proud of him.”
The Riccadonnas only cut hair for men and women; they don’t do perms or coloring, and don’t even have a shampoo bowl.
“We’re trying to bring that old-school, barber-shop vibe, customer appreciation, back to life, which got lost over the years,” Ronnie said.
The old-fashioned barber shop as a gathering spot is said to be on the way out, but the Riccadonnas believe it still has merit.
“This isn’t a fast-food business like a Sports Clips in the plaza,” Ronnie said. “This is one-on-one customer focus. It’s way more personable instead of trying to kick 40 haircuts out in a day and only spending 10 minutes on each person.”
People can come and hang out, and Ronnie has found that he really enjoys this aspect of the business.
“The greatest thing about what I’ve seen since we started is seeing my old friends again,” he said. “Now, I see them every month. I get to watch their kids grow up.”
Ronnie and Theresa work by appointment only, but they are willing to set appointments outside of the normal work day to accommodate people who have a lot of things going on.
“I understand you’re working late hours, you got your kids in school all day, you can’t bring your kids during school, then they have sports afterwards,” Ronnie said. “It’s not a big deal to stay open a few hours later than most barber shops.”
The shop is handicapped accessible, and Ronnie doesn’t mind making sure the shop is clear of other customers so he can cut the hair of an autistic child.
Theresa said she missed cutting hair when she retired, and enjoys being back in the game. But, what’s important is getting Ronnie’s career going, she said.
“I love being back cutting again and I’m glad Ronnie wanted me to come in with him, because this was his shop when I retired,” she said. “When he went to school, I said, ‘This is your shop now.’”
The variety of men’s haircuts has exploded with the advent of fades and designs cut into the hair, but Ronnie said his mom has been doing that stuff since before it was in fashion.
“She can cut the coolest hair,” he said. “She’s not old-school at all. She’s more modern than, maybe, I am.”
Theresa, who now cuts the hair of grandchildren of her original customers, said her focus these days is on the more traditional cuts.
“I think we’ll leave the crazy stuff to Ronnie,” she said. “He really is creative. He does the coolest haircuts on these kids.”
Ronnie said barbering stimulates his creative side, and allows him to socialize while making a few bucks.
“I’m a social butterfly,” Ronnie said. “I love people. I love personality. I get to tease the kids and tease the parents. Every day is almost like a small reunion of some sort. It really brought a lot of my friends together, and now we’re having more get-togethers. It’s like a community, kind of like a little church thing.”
To make an appointment, call Ronnie at 330-307-1978, or Theresa at 330-883-9228.