Anthony DeFranco of Anthony DeFranco Salon & Spa and  Ken Richter, co-owner of MIEKA Boutique...

Anthony DeFranco of Anthony DeFranco Salon & Spa and  Ken Richter, co-owner of MIEKA Boutique with the honorees.

Anthony DeFranco of Anthony DeFranco Salon & Spa recently marked 30 years of business in the salon and spa sector in a unique way: giving back to the community that has supported him by honoring 10 inspirational women for the personal challenges they have overcome. The honorees have survived illnesses such as cancer and MS, the loss of a child, raised children with special needs and demonstrated selfless acts in spearheading initiatives to help others and their community. This group of remarkable women were treated to head-to-toe makeovers where DeFranco and his team of beauty professionals took time to enhance their natural beauty through color, hair styling, makeup and nails.

Following their day of beauty and pampering, these women received their deserving moment to publicly shine during a special recognitional ceremony held at DeFranco’s 30th Business Anniversary Celebration at his Anthony DeFranco Salon & Spa in Huntington Station, NY. They made their makeover debuts wearing designer gowns and cocktail dresses donated by MIEKA Boutiques of Greenvale, NY and Woodbury, NY as they walked a red-carpet runway before an audience of more than 200 people, including family, friends and dignitaries, who heard their inspiring stores. The women honorees were Suzanne Chimera of Coram, NY; Blanca Nolasco of Huntington, NY; Debbie Rimler of Northport, NY; Linda Nuszen of Patchogue, NY; Aracelis Vanek of East Northport, Angela Ruggeri of Westbury, NY; Ronit Birns and Korrine Weil of Plainview, NY; Mara Navaretta of Woodbury, NY; and Andrea Jones of Bellmore, NY.

“I was blessed with wonderful mentors and others who inspired me and supported my entrepreneurial dreams. Recognizing these women was our way of giving back to the community that supports us every day," DeFranco says. "My team and I applied our years of experience and skills to make these extraordinary women feel special; they deserve recognition for all they do to improve the lives of others. Our mission statement is ‘beautiful hair is not everything, it’s the only thing’ and our vision is to create and provide every client with an exceptional look that makes them feel beautiful, confident and individually unique. Each of these women looked great and it was our privilege to do something special for them.”

"Providing dresses and gowns to the women allowed them to express themselves and feel special. This event gave us the opportunity to recognize those who selflessly help others. Their stories of loss, struggles and triumphs have touched my wife Karen and I deeply,” said Ken Richter, co-owner of MIEKA Boutique, a family owned business offering women’s designer fashions and sportswear.

DeFranco entered the hair industry with a Vidal Sassoon apprenticeship in 1979 and has since mentored many hair and beauty school students throughout his career. He opened his Huntington Station, NY Salon & Spa 30 years ago, where he became recognized as a national leader and innovator in hair styling and beauty. Today, he has a staff of 50 plus and recently opened his second location in Plainview, NY Anthony DeFranco Salon and Sight of Beauty Medi Spa.

Anthony DeFranco Salon’s Inspiring Women Honorees:


Aracelis Vanek - East Northport, NY

Aracelis Vanek is a wife and dedicated mother of an autistic child. She is patient, loving and always available and supportive of members of the family and her friends. She works in the title insurance sector and her friends and family describe her as “a gift.” She is known for her compassion and taking extraordinary actions to help and support her family and friends. Her actions and personal example are an inspiration for others.

Debbie Loss Rimler- Northport, NY

Debbie Loss Rimler is the Executive Director of Tri Community and Youth Agency, a non-profit agency serving youth ages 5 to 21 in Huntington, South Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor. For 31 years, she has championed the organization’s mission to provide educational, recreational, cultural, counseling and advocacy services to youth and their families. She assisted with large programs such as a Backpack and School Supply Give Away and Project T.O.Y., which serves over 1,000 families in economic need during the holidays. She works selflessly to provide a safe space and guidance, food and the feeling of family to those who need it most. Debbie’s commitment to her community makes it a better place to live. She is an inspiration to all.

Suzanne Chimera - Coram, NY

Suzanne Chimera co-founded Hair We Share, an organization that provides free custom-made donated human hair wigs to those suffering from medical hair loss. Suzanne was passionate about helping others and she contacted an 18-year-old girl diagnosed with leukemia to offer assistance. Before the young woman’s prom and graduation, Suzanne gave her a wig that looked like her own hair before she lost it to chemotherapy treatments. This led to the girl’s mother becoming a Hair We Share board member and volunteer. Suzanne takes no pay for her tireless efforts. She runs events, solicits pony tail donations and monetary donations and works directly with recipients. Her heartfelt and inspiring work is making a difference in the lives of many.

Linda Nuszen - Patchogue

Linda Nuszen is the founder of Beading Hearts, a group of mothers who have lost a child to a drug overdose in either Nassau and Suffolk counties. Linda has created a safe environment for mothers to support each other during weekly meetings. The Beading Hearts members also visit mothers in sober homes, rehabs and even jails. She shares stories of hope, reflection and promise while making inspirational beads with them. The mothers in Beading Hearts are “broken open” and learning how to embrace a new life by letting some light in. Linda is that light during dark personal times.

Blanca Nolasco - Huntington, NY

Blanca Nolasco, has been a loyal staff member at Anthony DeFranco Salon for 20 years. She is an incredible woman who has battled cancer several times during the years she has worked with Anthony. During these challenging periods, she always had a smile on her face and a positive attitude. Blanca is a loving wife, mother and grandmother, who is dedicated to her family and her job. She always gives her clients the attention that they need to ensure they have a wonderful experience, even when she is personally facing challenges. She is a true team player who never says no and is the first to offer assistance when it is needed. Her strength and positivity show everyone that life is worth living and celebrating.


Angela Ruggeri - Westbury, NY

Angela Ruggeri has been battling Cystic Fibrosis for 33 years and does so with grace. During medical treatments and hospital stays, she drew upon her inner strength and never gave up her fight. For years she has used her life as an example and her story to help and inspire others. She founded Breathe Believe to give hope and much needed support to those with Cystic Fibrosis who were less fortunate than her. Angela is committed to giving back to her community through Breathe Believe, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is a shining light of home and inspiration to all who have the pleasure of knowing her.

Korrine Weil - Plainview, NY

A few years ago, Korrine Weil’s family faced major health issues; her husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and her daughter was hospitalized with a serious Illness. Sadly, their daughter passed away. Her husband’s MS progressed and now he is housebound. Korrine is her husband’s primary caregiver; helping him in and out of his wheelchair and bed is physically exhausting. Physical therapy was needed to treat her injured shoulder and back. Despite these monumental personal challenges, Korrine is happy to do small errands for her neighbors, such as picking up some groceries. This inspiring woman takes little time for herself, devoting it instead to those she loves.

Mara Navaretta - Woodbury, NY

Mara Navaretta is an inspiring entrepreneur and founder of Homes By Mara Realty. The company, founded in 2010, is headquartered in Syosset and now has over 60 agents and closes over $100 million in sales annually. Mara’s community participation includes work with Blanca’s House, the Ashley Wade Foundation pajama drive and a hurricane collection drive. She also supports North Shore Animal League and Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. Her commitment to her community, leadership in business and professionalism are an inspiration for her family, her team and young women across Long Island. 

Ronit Birns - Plainview, NY

In 2001, Ronit Birns was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Ever since then, she has devoted herself to raising money and awareness in the fight against the disease and to help others. As captain of the MS Walk Team RoRoRo, she raised over $500,000. She knows how stressful and challenging it is to live with MS. She remains upbeat and positive and is always willing to offer advice, comfort and support to those who are newly diagnosed with MS. She is a loving wife, mother, friend, and advocate who always puts others before herself. This inspiring woman is truly a “warrior” for a cause and respected member of her community.

Andrea Jones - Bellmore, NY

Andrea Jones has focused her life on helping others. She has demonstrated this as a mother raising now-grown sons, volunteering her time in the past at her local Mother's Center, being a mentor with the Moxxie Mentoring Foundation or supporting friends.

She enjoys inspiring and assisting others to develop their talents and skills including advising the junior members of her marketing team where she works.  She looks forward to continuing to be a mentor for those she works with and trusted friend to those who face challenges.


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Originally posted on Modern Salon