When the Italian hotelier Charles Forte put a £1 note in the hand of a young Toni Mascolo in the late 1950s and said, ‘I hope this is the start of your career’, he probably never imagined that 60 years later the young teenager would look back at a lifetime achievement at the head of a multi-million-pound international hairdressing empire.
What’s more is that Mascolo returned the small gesture of charity in more ways than one, changing the lives of thousands of people through his generosity now institutionalised through the Toni&Guy Charitable Foundation. Between 2005 and 2014 the Toni&Guy Charitable Foundation has spent more than £1.7m on different charitable causes.
After moving from Italy to London as young boys with their family, Toni Mascolo and his brother Guy co-founded the first Toni&Guy salon in Clapham, London in 1963. Today Toni&Guy has over 420 salons in 42 countries, with more than 5,000 employees in the UK and over 2,000 others in the rest of the world. The success of the business is its franchise model and brother Guy (who sadly died in 2009) later took over business operations in North America together with brothers Bruno and Anthony.
Mascolo expanded his business interests in 1997 by establishing the diffusion salon and beauty brand ‘essensuals’. He then branched out into other industries such as coffee shops, IT and financial services, as well as product ranges.
The result is that earlier in 2015 Mascolo was at number 371 on the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated wealth of £270m.
In his biography, Toni: My Story: The Rags-to-Riches Story of Toni & Guy, Hairdresser to the World, Mascolo wrote that he is fortunate to be in a position to help others.
“I was… brought up to show charity to people. As a boy I would give up my seat on the bus to an adult and I would often help an old lady across the road. But later, when I had a young family of my own in London, I worked eighteen hours a day seven days a week to put a roof over their heads and give them an education, so there was no time for charity. Once they were all grown up and our business had prospered there was time and I wanted to use it to help other people,” Mascolo wrote.
The first major charity project Mascolo contributed to was the building of a hostel and 48 apartments in southern Italy to shelter children who are disadvantaged as a result of physical and psychological problems.
Back in the UK Mascolo and his wife Pauline started their charitable work by supporting the children’s charity Variety. In 2003 they visited the Variety Children’s Hospital at King’s College Hospital in London and were touched by the plight of young patients. The children’s hospital has an international reputation for its expertise in areas such as neurosurgery, liver transplant and the treatment of Sickle Cell Disease and Cystic Fibrosis.
“When my wife and I visited King’s College Hospital and saw how many children’s lives could be saved for the cost of opening four or five salons, we set up the Toni&Guy Charitable Foundation to sponsor a ward,” Mascolo wrote.
In 2013 Mascolo presented Variety with a cheque of £700,000 towards the state of the art hospital ward. Some of the money was raised through the personal efforts of the Mascolo family by hosting the annual Toni&Guy summer party at their beautiful home in Effingham, Surrey. In 2012 approximately £26,000 was raised in this manner alone.
The Toni&Guy Charitable Foundation moved on to sponsor several other charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support, the Stroke Association and Hair and Beauty Benevolent.
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer by providing practical, medical and financial support and promoting better cancer care for patients. The money donated to Macmillan Cancer Support by Toni&Guy Charitable Foundation is used for wig grants. Macmillan is also working in partnership with Toni&Guy to train their stylists to offer specialist hair advice and support to people affected by cancer.
The Stroke Association strikes a personal chord with Mascolo. In June 2015 he said he was proud that the foundation was sponsoring the Life After Stroke Award for the second consecutive year.
“The Stroke Association is an amazing charity and one that is very close to my heart as I myself suffered from a stroke in 2000. I was extremely fortunate to recognize the signs so thankfully there was no lasting damage. Others are not so lucky, which is why the work of the Stroke Association is necessary and extraordinary,” Mascolo said.
Another organization supported by the Toni&Guy Charitable Foundation is the Hair and Beauty Benevolent (HABB), the official industry charity. They assist hair and beauty professionals in difficult circumstances, including financial support to individuals and their families facing illness, bereavement or financial hardship.
Mascolo’s lifetime achievements and charitable work did not go unrecognized. In 2008 the Queen of England bestowed the honour of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on him, and in 2013 he and his wife were honoured with the award of Knight & Dame Commander of Saint Gregory from the Catholic church.
His final views on charity in his autobiography are that he is fortunate to be in a position to help others, but that it is everyone’s duty to try and help those in need. And not only by giving money.
“Sometimes it is more important to give time than money. In business I might let someone off a month’s bills, but it is usually better if I speak to them and try to motivate them. It’s the same with charity, although of course money is also very important.”
Toni Mascolo & Stafford Hildred. 2015. Toni: My Story: The Rags-to-Riches Story of Toni & Guy, ‘Hairdresser to the World’. John Blake Publishing.
Charity Commission. The Regulator for Charities in England and Wales. http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/PrintReport.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1095285&ReportType=BW
Open Charities. http://opencharities.org/charities/1095285
Variety Children’s Hospital. Retrieved from https://www.variety.org.uk/what-we-do/childrens-hospital-grants/variety-childrens-hospital
Macmillan Cancer Support. Toni & Guy. Retrieved from http://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/breast-cancer/coping/changes-to-appearance-and-body-image/dealing-with-hair-loss/toni-and-guy.html
Toni Mascolo OBE talks about sponsoring Stroke Awards. Retrieved from http://blog.stroke.org.uk/life-after-stroke-awards/toni-mascolo-blog/
Independent. (2011, October 23). Henry Deedes. Toni Mascolo: the salon supremo. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/toni-mascolo-the-salon-supremo-969627.html