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Toni & Guy founder: “I came, I cut, I conquered”

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“When I was a young boy, I started reading the diary of Julius Caesar in Latin,” says Mascolo, who presented the customer excellence gong at our 2009 Growing Business Awards alongside Reading FC’s John Madejski. “That’s unusual for a boy of ten. But I enjoyed every minute – his battles, his strategies. Why do I need anyone else to inspire me when I have I the best man on the globe? He taught me to have no fear – to set targets that look impossible to everyone else. I’ve never, ever gone into a business thinking about failure. Ask me, “Open this salon” or “Go into this new venture” and I’ll just think, “It’s going to be amazing!”

Mascolo arrived in England from Italy in 1956 at age of 14. By 16, he was manager of a large hairdressing salon. By 21, he’d opened the first Toni & Guy salon in Clapham with his brother. “The owner of the salon gave us a 21-year lease with no premium. It costs us £20 a week. It was ten times what we should have been paying back then, but 21 years later, it was a decent rate!” he says.

The Toni & Guy empire today pulls in sales of £175m, with 225 salons dotted across the UK and 150 worldwide. Mascolo was awarded an OBE for services to hairdressing last year and employs a whopping 8,000 people.

“I still work in the salons,” he tells us. “I’ll be in our Sloane Square this week and I’ll have my sandwich with the juniors. It will probably be hot and horrid in there but, if it’s bad for them, it should be bad for me, too. I should not be treated any differently. If a client comes in, they have to respect me for my haircut. I can still do a perm – I can still give you the best haircut you ever had!”

Watch the full interview with Toni Mascolo here.

Related artiles:"My father was a hairdresser. And his father. And his father before him"UK small businesses are doing something very right!"

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