The entrepreneurial fraternity lost one of its own this when Giuseppe “Toni” Mascolo, one of the co-founders of hairdressing chain Toni & Guy, passed away on Sunday 10th December 2017.
Toni embodied everything that is great about brilliant entrepreneurs and his legacy should stretch far beyond the brand’s hairdressing salons that have spread across the country and around the world.
He should also be held up as one of the rare breed of business owners that isn’t afraid to do something different and challenge conformity by taking a supposed traditional business idea and doing it differently.
I can certainly associate with his approach as it’s exactly what I did with Pimlico Plumbers.
Plumbing, like hairdressing, is a classic business that exists the world over. There are so many people doing what we do and customers must be able to work out where they should be spending their valuable, hard earned cash.
Therefore, the challenge is to do it better than everyone else and have the guts to stand out from the crowd and carve out a serious niche in the market.
Toni, and his brother and business partner Gaetano “Guy” Mascolo, had buckets full of ambition and the gumption to become more than hairdressers, they became highly-successful entrepreneurs, creating jobs and wealth while sorting out quite a few barnets along the way, of course!
The pair, who were sons of Italian immigrants who arrived in England in the 1950s, opened their first salon in 1963 in Clapham where the family settled.
Offering an “Italian style” hairdressing service during the swinging sixties they opened a unisex business that appealed to men and woman, which was in stark contrast to England’s traditional barber shops and women-only salons of the time.
And just like Pimlico’s celebrity client list, Toni & Guy weren’t strangers to famous customers with legends like Dusty Springfield and Andrew Lloyd Webber enjoying the styling talents of the brothers.
After opening its first central London salon in London’s West End in 1973 two more Mascolo brothers, Bruno and Anthony, joined the business and helped propel the family firm into an international brand.
Since the early 70s, Toni & Guy has marched forward at pace and has grown to become global franchised hair salon groups with 475 outlets in 48 countries.
Not bad for a couple of lads with some scissors and some very big dreams.
And it’s those dreams that should be an inspiration to the enterprising business owners and young entrepreneurs up and down the country.
Toni & Guy, just like Pimlico Plumbers, proves that entrepreneurs don’t have to reinvent the wheel, they only have to be cleverer about how they use it.
On Dragons’ Den, for example, it’s more common to see an entrepreneur with a new invention, rather than a solid business idea that is based on taking something that’s been done before, but doing it a bit differently and a million times better.
With more people like Toni, that can change. While the world is a different place to the late 20th century, I am convinced the principle still applies.
So, as we reach the end of 2017, I hope that in any downtime that aspiring entrepreneurs can get between Christmas and New Year, they look at businesses like Toni & Guy and the amazing people behind them to be further inspired in their endeavours.
And, on that note, I would like to wish all the readers of Real Business and the UK’s army of SME business owners a very happy Christmas and an entrepreneurial 2018!
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