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John Amico School of Hair Design Sets the Stage For High Standards

Oak Forest Cosmetology School continues to thrive with an owner who is passionate about his craft and students.

is known around the South Side for his nestled among the bars and restaurants on Cicero Avenue.

But before the Oak Forest location, he opened his first salon in 1962 next door to a popular pharmacy in Skokie. It was decorated with church sconces and décor from his architect father’s connections with church design.  Raised in the Sauganash area on the North side of Chicago, his father designed the local church and sent John to Notre Dame College Prep then on to Notre Dame. After one year at Notre Dame, Amico decided to attend cosmetology school during the summer. He would never return to college.

By 1965, he had three salons and looked into space at Ford
City Mall. He opened a massive salon in Peacock Alley, the lower level of Ford City Mall, quickly becoming the go-to place for hair. He remained in that spot, continuing to grow and expand for 22 years.  The Ford City location served as a salon and school to a growing number of students. 

All the while he stayed true to his passion, opening his first Hair Performers salon in 1973 to showcase his talented students. He chose the name of the salon chain because he wanted to bring "a little bit of showbiz to the hair business; after all, the stylist is like a performer and the chair and area around it their stage," said Amico. 

In seven years he would have 50 Hair Performers salons nationwide. 

In 1978, noticing the need for a quality local beauty school, he opened a school on 159th and Central Avenue.  In 1985 he merged the two
schools and relocated to the current location at 153rd and Cicero Avenue, and has been educating students, or as he calls them, future graduates, ever since.

A father of five and grandfather of 17, he made sure every
one of his children first completed his courses at the beauty school prior to going off to college. 

"I wanted to make sure they had a life skill, a trade, to help them become self-sufficient and sustain them while in college," he said. He explained that while other college students were living off of their parents, his kids earned their own spending money by cutting other students’ hair.

Amico’s grandson, Zach Schmitz, is currently attending the
school, and was present when Patch popped in. One regular customer insisted that only he color her hair. 

"He always does such a wonderful job," she said. 

Amico enjoys having his family attend his school.

"All of the students are like my children; I set my standards high and want the best for every one of my future graduates."

He mentioned that the school has a zero tolerance policy for drugs, alcohol and behavior. He expects dedication and professionalism from everyone who attends and in return he promises a top quality education in the field of cosmetology.

The school was abuzz with activity as students tended to the
hair needs of their customers. Students in one room off were being time-tested in foil application, a technique used to apply highlights. Other students made plentiful spiral curls to their mannequins.

Although Amico has trained many young students over the
years, the recent downturn in the economy has brought many mature individuals to his school. He has trained former firefighters, teachers, employees of streets and sanitation and even two former nuns that were now looking for new careers as stylists. 

The tuition has held steady since 1994. He does not believe in inflated interest rates on student loans and offers scholarships and helps students attain grants to help finance their education.

Kathy Rogge September 12, 2011 at 07:31 PM
went to John's school in the late 70's, worked for Hair Performer for many years and 35 years later I am still using the skills I learned to make a living. He's a great guy and everything I learned about being a hair professional started with John. . . .Thanks!
Debbie Orshonsky September 15, 2011 at 02:40 PM
John takes great pride in his students and his work. The students do a great job there. John and his family are very caring and nurturing to those around them. He makes sure everyone is satisfied when they leave. What more can I say........
Megan Mizell September 15, 2011 at 08:32 PM
I currently attend John Amico School Of Hair Design and I must say I enjoy every moment I spend their. The educators are awesome, and Mr. Amico is always making sure we are recieving the best education possible. He has guest speakers,shows us lots of demo cuts and is very passionate about the clients and our education. I would personally recommend this school to anyone who likes to make people look and fell good. In all I just want so thank you for the opportunity to recieve a great education.
Tracy Cysewski September 27, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Lisa Amico was in my sorority at Bradley University and used to cut my hair. Great article!

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