In the 11th grade, Frank Bennett decided to leave high school with the belief he could take another path. Although his guidance counselor didn’t share his confidence, Bennett was sure he would land on his feet.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur and a leader since I was 13 years old, starting from the first car wash I opened up with a Johnny pump on my block in Bensonhurst,” he said. “I knew I needed to do something with my hands. I knew I needed to be creative.”
Bennett demonstrated strong leadership skills while achieving Eagle Scout status, which also helped him refine his “God-given talent” on his way to finding his calling as a beauty professional.
That creativity eventually led Bennett and his wife, Anne, to open A.F. Bennett salon in Brooklyn in 1993. He realized a few years later that many Brooklyn customers were moving to Staten Island, so the duo added a 7,000-square foot location in 1998, on New Dorp Lane.
Focusing his business solely on Staten Island proved beneficial as A.F. Bennett Salon & Wellness Spa celebrated its 20th anniversary in September. That milestone proved that Bennett was destined for success despite not finishing high school.
The business remains a pillar in the community while offering clients high-quality salon and spa services, which includes massages, facial care, and healing baths.
“I don’t think we could have been here this long without God’s Grace,” said Bennett. “We keep our finger on the pulse about what people want, but equally important is creating a place people know they can rely on a high level of service and amenities. These are things we’ve become synonymous with.”
Another reason for the longevity in the borough is how the owners and staff treat all their customers.
“Some (first-time clients) may think we are a snooty, upscale salon where they may not feel comfortable. What they recognize — in a very short period of time — is that we offer a warm and loving environment,” said Bennett. “We show people love, consideration, and kindness. It’s great that the place looks amazing and has a wonderful feel, but the truth of the matter, is that it comes down to the fact we love people.
“Of course, we want to deliver great services. More importantly, we want to deliver an experience, and part of that experience is love,” he added.
Bennett stresses that concept during leadership and team meetings by constantly discussing how they can show their guests love. That desire to show love is an extension of Bennett’s devotion to helping people as evidenced by his lengthy community activity.
He plays an active role in the Men’s Ministry at Resurrection Church and serves on the committee for establishing a Resurrection Church campus on Staten Island. He instructs new drivers on the race track with the Porsche Club of America, and is an assistant Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America. He is a member of Rotary Club International, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, I Am Empowering, and a founding member of the Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere.
Bennett recently joined the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce after attending February’s Lou Miller Business Leadership Awards and receiving a warm reception from many familiar faces in attendance.