Toni Mascolo founded his Toni & Guy empire with his brother Gaetano (Guy) in 1963. Today he owns a franchise chain of 405 salons in 41 countries, as well as lucrative sidelines in haircare, hairdressing tools and even cafes. He talks family, selling up and Boris Johnson with RB.
Mascolo came over to the UK to join his hairdresser father when he was 14. By 16, he was already doing perms and cuts for the patrons. “Family is at the heart of the business,” says Mascolo. “It started with my brothers and I, and now my son and daughter are in the business.”
Mascolo and his brother Gaetano opened their first salon in Clapham in 1963 and were swiftly joined by younger siblings Bruno and Anthony. “We have been together for 40 years,” he says. “We have achieved tremendous strength together.”
However, today Bruno’s arm of the business, Toni & Guy USA, has been completely demerged from the parent company.
“It was advantageous for the company,” explains Mascolo in his heavily-accented voice. “They can now run Tigi and Bedhead [Toni & Guy haircare lines] as one company, with a single distributor, a single manufacturer: it’s common sense.”
And now a new generation of Mascolos has risen through the ranks: Sasha Mascolo-Tarbuck is currently global creative director of the group, and Mascolo’s son Christian is MD of Essensuals, Toni & Guy’s other salon and beauty brand.
There’s certainly no question of selling up, or passing the reins to an outsider. “The company’s built for them,” says Mascolo. “I asked my son and my daughter what they want to do, and they’re excited to carry on the business.”
Nevertheless, Mascolo’s in no hurry to step down. “I’ve never had a day off,” he says. “Not even on a Sunday.” He still cuts hair for loyal customers in his Davies Street branch.
A whole host of stars of stage and screen have passed under his scissors over the years: “Gregory Peck used to come in, and Diana Ross,” he recalls. “I’ve even cut Dame Edna’s hair!” But Mascolo is not impressed by celebrity. “I think I’ve done some of the Rolling Stones,” he says nonchalantly. “In the King’s Road branch, years ago.”
There is one high profile customer that he is proud of, however. “We cut the Mayor’s hair right before the election,” he beams.
“Boris Johnson?! In Toni & Guy?!” splutters RB.
“Well, you must have noticed,” he says. “Before he had all the bush hair, then suddenly he had a great haircut. And he won didn’t he? The haircut helped.”