Forty-five-year old identical twins, Matt and Mark Neff, have experienced two divergent approaches to boomeranging.
Mark, the Hyde Park luxury salon owner, made one five-year move from Cincinnati to San Francisco but returned home for good in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
Matt, the itinerant sales and marketing guru, has boomeranged time and again: relocating from Cincinnati to San Francisco, then back to Cincinnati, on to New York, then to Florida, back to Cincinnati, and now once again in Florida. Yet firmly rooted in Cincinnati (the twins’ family has lived in the area as far back as four generations), Matt visits this city at least once a month.
Matt and Mark grew up in Liberty Township in a loving family with parents, Curt and Beverly, and a younger brother, Eric. Their parents embraced entrepreneurship and encouraged their sons to explore and take risks.
Both brothers attended Miami University and majored in marketing. After graduating in 1996, Mark moved to San Francisco for a marketing/advertising position, while Matt first worked in hotel hospitality in Cincinnati but then joined Mark in San Francisco for a short-term job. In 1999 Matt was recruited to return to Cincinnati for a hotel sales and marketing position.
Mark stayed in San Francisco until the tragedy of 9/11 made him rethink his priorities. Hyper-attuned to the fragility of life, he decided to veer away from marketing to follow his passion and start a new career: hair styling.
Mark wanted to be closer to his family — and enjoy the slower pace and affordability of Cincinnati — so he moved back to town and trained at the Aveda Fredric’s Institute.
Matt was already living here after being recruited by TravelClick in 2000 for a sales role in hospitality. Mark and Matt first lived with each other in Clifton and then bought condos together at the Madison House.
Matt, admitting he has a love of shaking things up, moved back to San Francisco in early 2006 to run the Northern California territory for TravelClick.
Meanwhile, Mark set his sights on the long-term investment of owning a salon and, in May of 2007, opened the luxury Christopher Marcus Salon (a play on Mark’s first and middle names, Mark Christopher) in Hyde Park Square.
In 2008, Matt returned to Cincinnati to oversee the Central United States territory for TravelClick. Matt and Mark bought a house together in North Avondale, where they lived for two years until selling it when Matt again was transferred in 2011, this time to New York to oversee the New Jersey/New York territory for the travel company.
In 2014, Matt again transferred, this time to Hollywood, Florida to oversee TravelClick’s Southeastern United States territory.
Three years later, Matt made the bold move of leaving his 17-year position with TravelClick to return to Cincinnati. He was home to work on a joint venture with Mark: opening up a second salon location, Christopher Marcus Salon at the Madison House in Hyde Park. The two lived in nearby condos on the penthouse floor. They joke that their commute consisted of pushing an elevator button to descend to the first floor and then taking a 30-second walk to work.
The second location of Christopher Marcus was designed as a new talent salon, with Matt working as chief revenue officer over all operations, and Mark overseeing new personnel and training stylists and aestheticians to professionalize their skills.
By July of 2018, the brothers had sold the original Christopher Marcus Salon on the Square to focus solely on the Madison House location.
The salon quickly turned into a well-oiled machine. The brothers were proud of meeting their goal for the Christopher Marcus Salon to be “the friendliest luxury salon and spa in the area.” The twins had streamlined procedures and protocols in the operation of the salon so well that Matt was beginning to feel restless for his next challenge.
In January of 2018, Matt was hired as a consultant in growing East Coast business for Conversion Logix, a Seattle-based digital ad agency. He now happily works out of his home office in Florida.
Along with their current careers — and being the high-energy entrepreneurs that they are — Matt and Mark have now embarked on their next venture, joining a brand new online startup, RoamingTails, founded by Matt’s Hollywood neighbor, Jaime Bowerman. Matt works in the role of president and Mark as Cincinnati’s ambassador of RoamingTails, which offers smart pet tags that help reunite missing pets with their owners more easily, and reducing the animal population in shelters.
“It’s fun to do something outside of the hair salon arena,” says Mark. Both hope that working on the new venture will propel them into their retirements and beyond.
Matt and Mark see their situation as the ideal mix. Matt works on his various jobs out of his Florida home office.
“Being able to work at home actually gives me the flexibility to boomerang,” says Matt. And his prime Florida location and all its amenities are at his family’s disposal whenever they want a vacation.
In September of 2018, the Neffs suffered a tragic loss, the death of younger brother Eric after a car accident. Matt comes back to Cincinnati often to be close to his family.
Mark says he is super content with the steadiness of his salon work in Cincinnati while being delighted that each of Matt’s moves has given him the opportunity to travel to fun places.
And the brothers are never far out of reach. They begin every day with a “wake up call,” a friendly morning phone conversation over coffee that keeps them perpetually in tune with each other’s lives.
This is the fourth story in an ongoing series about Cincinnati’s “boomerang” residents — people who grew up here, left, and then came back for various personal, professional, and sentimental reasons. If you or someone you know qualifies and would like to be featured in Soapbox, email [email protected].