I don’t generally find myself being pampered; simply don’t have the time for such sweet indulgence. You’ll never find me being wrapped in seaweed at a fancy spa, for example – or enjoying a manicure at a posh nail bar. No, a bright pink splash of varnish that sweeps accidentally over my car’s dashboard is the norm there. And if I’m ever wrapped in seaweed I’m not sure I’d be telling you here…
So what a treat to be invited to Toni & Guy’s flagship salon for a cut and style by the fantastic Toni Mascolo. Not only is he a hero of the hair, fashion and beauty industries, he’s an absolute inspiration to anyone in business. I met Toni at a lunch at the Dorchester to celebrate the Life after Stroke awards. I was a guest of the Stroke Association who were presenting the awards to inspiring stroke survivors and carers. Toni’s charitable foundation was sponsoring the awards and he gave the keynote speech. We met briefly after the ceremony and he very kindly offered to work his magic on me.
What an absolutely charming and lovely man! And a phenomenal businessman. Since opening the first salon half a century ago with his late brother, Toni’s taken his success to a global level – with his family joining him in running the brand in more than 64 countries! He’s been honoured with an OBE, a lifetime achievement award, the award of Knight & Dame Commander of Saint Gregory (bestowed personally by The Pope), honorary university professor and an International Legend Award. This man knows his stuff!! So what an honour to have been offered a hair makeover!
And as if that wasn’t amazing enough, Toni invited me to the Toni & Guy annual awards ceremony, fashion show and party, held at the Olympic Park’s Copper Box Arena. So I dressed up in something black and sparkly and headed off for a night of fun, meeting interesting, whacky and hugely talented people, drinking pink wine and having a thoroughly tremendous night.
The fashion show was incredible. I missed London Fashion Week this month, but Toni & Guy has been sponsoring the event for a decade, so a few designers were lucky enough to showcase their ranges on last night’s Copper Box catwalk. The hair models were fab too – presented by the creative team behind the designs. Three things struck me from a business perspective. Firstly, the sensational branding that carries itself around the world with cutting edge (see what I did there?!) precision and a first hand knowledge of fashion trends. Secondly, the hands on philosophy – the whole management team still cut and colour hair; no one’s too important to stand in a salon. Thirdly, education forms the backbone of this business. The philosophy is that there’s always something new to learn.
Research carried out by the University of Durham confirms that the brand offers a highly enjoyable, all round experience that entices customers back time and again. From the quality of the stylists to the choice of music played on the in-store video channel, this is a thriving business that works from the top down. A business where everyone is valued and people development is paramount. Well I agree!! They get a 10/10 from me.
During the show a strange, futuristic tank was wheeled along the catwalk containing a woman encased in some sort of industry-strength cling wrap. A tube appeared to be feeding oxygen into the tiny space beside her nose. It was quite bizarre yet fascinating and breath-taking: very reminiscent of something you might see at a Lady Gaga performance. As she says, “I just wanna be myself, and I want you to love me for who I am. I just wanna be myself, and I want you to know, I am my hair.”
A million thanks to Toni Mascolo and his PA Michelle for a fantastic weekend. My hair is shorter, healthier and layered now – but you’ll still recognise me. And if you don’t… you can find me here, as always: @WeekendWitch.