CHOOSE BEAUTY: Zak Mascolo
Hometown: Venice Beach, CA
Industry Icon: Guy Mascolo and Anthony Mascolo. Outside of the family, I would say Vidal Sassoon. When he spoke at the Royal Albert Hall, he gave a shout-out to the Mascolo Brothers and it felt so great. Just before he passed, Bruno and I went to lunch with him and had some great chats. Forty years after his short cut on Twiggy, we are still working off of what he did such a long time ago.
Career Other than Hairdressing: I think I would have gone to culinary school. My dad, cooked, my mom cooked and my three kids all know that we will sit down and eat dinner together every night. I’m also good at juggling my three kids--7 years old, 4 years old, and 16 months-- and I can handle all of them at once. I love it.
Now reading: For the last few months, I have been so absorbed in revamping the TONI&GUY Classics Collection that all I have been reading is scripts on how-to do this and this and this. But the last book I read was called Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain by Ryan Blair and it’s about how a gang member evolved to become a multimillionaire entrepreneur. My uncle Bruno (Mascolo) is always in my ear, reminding me that we have to help hairdressers become more entrepreneurial.
Title of your autobiography: Zak Mascolo: Don’t Judge Me or The Legacy Lives On
Mantra: What I keep repeating to myself and others is “Upgrade the Industry.” I want to update and upgrade what is needed to pass the state boards so it’s not just a wet set that they don’t’ even do anymore. I want students to be able to learn what they need to earn.
While raised in a family whose name is synonymous with hairdressing excellence and innovation, Zak Mascolo, the creative leader for TONI&GUY academies and salons, first found a home on the field, not the salon floor.
“Growing up, hairdressing was almost the last thing I wanted to do, believe it or not; maybe because of all those years as a young kid, waiting for my dad to finish work, always hanging out in the break room. (Editor note: His father, Guy Mascolo co-founded TONI&GUY).) I moved to America with my mom when I was in my teens, and my focus was sports, all through high school. In my 20’s, I had to go back to England to get my Green Card and I reunited with my cousins, Christian and Sasha, Tony’s kids, and they were already in it, already doing hair. Christian and I grew up together and when I saw him again it was if we never left each other. He said, ‘You should give it a go’ so I started training in England at TONI&GUY. I came back to America, a little homesick, frankly, and I joined my Dad in Dallas to finish my training. Then, I started working in the salon.”
And for those who will assume that the rest of his story was smooth sailing, Mascolo—in a style that is frank, disarming and totally relatable—will quickly dispel that notion. “I wanted to quit at least ten times. For five and a half years in Dallas, I really thought I was horrible and I had so many doubts. Early on, I never ate breakfast because I was too nervous about my first few clients every day. Clients would walk in the door and I would be thinking, ‘Please don’t be my client, please don’t be my client.’ People that see me now almost think I’m lying because getting onstage was so hard for me, doing someone else’s hair stressed me out so much.
It took me a long time to get over the feeling that everyone was watching me, everyone was looking and thinking, ‘What is Guy’s son doing?’ It took me three to five years to be really confident in what I was doing.”
Mascolo went onto the TONI&GUY salon in Manhattan and continued as it evolved into an academy. “The first two years, it was a salon and once a month we did our education and the next thing you know it was getting such a high demand that we flipped it to a TIGI academy,” says Mascolo. “Once I started teaching, I fell in love with doing hair. I can so relate to the students and their struggle when it’s not clicking. I love working with that young, eager hairdresser. Because they would rather text their client a consultation than actually talk to them, we help them come out of their shell and learn to communicate. I tell them don’t quit, keep going, and some things you’re not going to learn unless you make mistakes. When they leave us, they are fully equipped to go to any salon and be hired.”
Today, Mascolo guides education and training for TONI&GUY and supervises the creation of imagery including yearly haircut and styling collections. While following in his family’s footsteps, he is creating his own path.
“Growing up as an athlete and then becoming a hairdresser—it couldn’t be more opposite. My dad never pushed me to do it and maybe that was a blessing in disguise. I love what I do today, so much.”