Not looking to retire just yet but eyeing the start of their second careers, John Bianco and Evelyn Cuciti wanted to start a business together that wouldn’t require an intense hands-on approach.
Cuciti didn’t want to give up her decade-long career at a nonprofit helping women and children. Bianco, best known for playing Gerry Torciano on The Sopranos, recently finished shooting a movie with Adrian Brody in Upstate New York and has a few other projects coming down the pike. He didn’t want to give up his career, either.
“Deka Lash is not a complete absentee-owner business, we go in often and check up on the girls, but it more or less falls into that category which we both needed [for our own careers],” Bianco said.
When they realized franchising was the way to go, Bianco said Deka Lash was the perfect fit.
“[Franchising] is kind of laid out for you. We’re not really businesspeople. We did look at other options, but after meeting with the founders, we thought their philosophy and types of services put them and now us ahead of the competition,” said Bianco.
At Deka Lash, clients get one-on-one attention as soon as they walk in the door. There’s no receptionist, so they don’t get passed over from person to person. When someone walks in the door, according to Bianco, they will be greeted by a lash artist who will take their information, walk them through the process, and be there every step of the way.
Their first location will host its grand opening on April 8 in Franklin Lakes. Two more locations, one in Princeton and one in a to-be-determined location in South Jersey, are slated for next year.
According to Deka Lash founders Jennifer and Michael Blair, the brand has experienced explosive growth since they started franchising three years ago. Thirty locations are currently open in 20 states. In the next five to seven year, 45 to 50 locations are slated for New Jersey alone.
The Blairs originally thought Deka Lash would just be a hobby business when they started it in Pittsburgh, but quickly wanted to expand when they saw what the lash extensions did for their clients’ confidence.
“Not only is it good for the customer that have confidence in the eyelashes, but it’s also the business owners we’re creating like John and Evelyn,” said Michael Blair. “We’re creating entrepreneurship for people looking for the next journey in their life so it’s been exciting to contribute to that.”
There are eight franchisees in New Jersey looking to develop on average three locations apiece, according to the Blairs.
“It’s was one of the markets that we know, with the Jersey girls and the consumers there, that this would be a concept that would work,” said Blair.
Initial lash applications run $79 with a $55 to $65 fee to re-apply. Clients can also get memberships that allow for one application per month, two applications per month, or an unlimited amount of refills.