How Toni Mascolo gave hairdressing a makeover

From BBC - December 13, 2017

Toni Mascolo, who has died aged 75, and his brother Guy revolutionised hairdressing in London at the end of the last century.

The son of an immigrant hairdresser, Toni had initial dreams of becoming a lawyer, but hard times forced him into his father's business.

Over 50 years, he was the family's business brain that turned Toni & Guy into an international franchise brand.

They expanded into hair care, training and education, photography and fashion.

They opened their first south London salon in Clapham, dropping leaflets round the area to advertise their "Italian style", but it took 10 years for them to get the capital to move into central London.

It was a period when the traditional barbers were finding it hard to cope with the lengthening curls of their male clients, while women were demanding ever more elaborate styles, from bobs to bouffants to beehives.

During the 1970s, Guy and Toni expanded outside the traditional hairdressing arena, bringing in their younger siblings, Anthony and Bruno, and eventually many of their children.

Then in 1988, the first Toni & Guy franchise opened in Brighton. Within 12 years, the number would swell to 112, with 27 salons abroad. Since then the numbers have quadrupled.

'So many jobs for so many people'

Ashley Miah started work as Toni Mascolo's assistant 15 years ago. He's gone from washing hair to being the manager of one of the company's biggest salons.

Although the company is a franchise, Toni retained direct ownership of some salons and he returned and worked with Ashley one day a fortnight.

Ashley went to the Toni and Guy Academy for two years to get an NVQ, then did the company scholarship to become stylist.

"So many people owe their careers to Toni, what he and Guy did with the academy has been so influential in training people and raising standards," he says.

"I learnt a lot from him, he was so passionate, he had a really nice energy that brought people together.

"His influence is there right across the industry, he created so many jobs for so many people."

A cut above

Richard Ward, Royal and celebrity hairdresser, said: "The main thing is that Toni pioneered the concept of the chain. There had been chains before but not on this scale. Even Vidal Sassoon did not have them at this level.

"Back in the day you would have people coming up to London to get their hair done, but by franchising and taking a very high standard out into the counties and the country, it meant that they could find what they wanted on their own High Street.

"And it changed the life of all hairdressers. It raised the bar for all of us."

To get the degree of professionalism across the expanding franchise, Toni started an academy in the West End of London in 1984.

In his autobiography, Toni: My Story, he wrote:"I was looking at a building in St Christopher's Place and as soon as I went inside I knew it would be absolutely perfect for our school. It was ideal.

"I said to myself, 'God has been good to me.' Straight away I decided I would take it."

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