Michael Izzolo never thought he’d become a hair stylist, let alone own one of the oldest and most successful salons in the Treasure Coast. Growing up in New Jersey, he played six different sports; and after college, he worked as a sporting goods buyer. Though he found success, he still felt there was something missing.
Now, more than 30 years later, Izzolo and his wife, Kimberly, are at the forefront of hair care in Palm City. As the owners of Michael Leonard’s AVEDA Concept Hair Salon, which opened in 1992, the husband-and-wife duo offers the latest trends, styles and technology with a side of wine and freshly baked cookies.
In addition to hair care, Izzolo, 54, is behind an innovative device for yogis called Yogeasy, which helps reduce pain and slipping during yoga practice. He is an avid philanthropists as well, raising more than $11 million in the past 13 years.
What was your first experience with salons and hair care?
I had a friend whose family owned a barbershop and a salon, so I started to help out on weekends. It all just clicked, so one day I came home and told my parents I was going to cosmetology school.
How did you come to own your salon?
Right after my wife and I got married, she had a lot of her family move down here. We decided to come here on vacation and casually look for a salon we could afford just the two of us. We didn’t have much luck until the very last day when my mother-in-law saw an ad in the paper for a manager-stylist in Palm City. But when we got there, the first thing they asked me was if we wanted to buy it. It was a cute little place, but nothing I was used to. It was painted green and there were plastic plants everywhere. A lot has changed since then.
What sets Michael Leonard’s Salon apart from other salons?
My wife and I grew the salon from the ground up after we bought it. We brought a style of hair care that wasn’t really here at the time. We slowly hired a great staff from local hair schools, and now it’s 17 of us. We’re one big family. That’s why we focus on creating an experience for our guests, which includes offering wine and cookies. In a way, we’re welcoming them into our home, which is why we want them to feel comfortable.
You’re also a yogi, and the creator of Yogeasy, hand pads for a non-slip grip. Tell us about that.
After 30 years of doing hair, it’s hard not to develop some form of carpal tunnel in your hands with arthritis and wrist pain. As I practiced yoga, I realized I was slipping more than I should on the mat. That’s when I came up with the idea to create a device that stops you from slipping and reduces pain while I was practicing. So I went to Home Depot and bought a few products to create my own prototype. Four years later, I have three patents, and Yogeasy is sold on Amazon.
Describe your philanthropy work.
My wife and I are very focused on helping children. We’re paying it forward. The support we’ve received with our business is unbelievable, so it only feels right. Family is big for us, too. We come from a big Italian family, and we spend almost every weekend together. That’s what counts.