Expert Advice

CHOOSE BEAUTY: David Raccuglia, Founder of American Crew

Anne Moratto | July 1, 2014 | 7:58 PM


Born and Raised: LaSalle, Illinois

Industry Icon: Horst Rechelbacher

Music You’re Listening to Now: The Districts

Your Favorite Day of the Week: Monday

How You Spend a Day-Off::Outside

Your Mantra: Find a Mantra!

CHOOSE BEAUTY: David Raccuglia, Founder of American Crew

Men’s grooming visionary, accomplished photographer and the founder of American Crew, David Raccuglia is clear about who influenced his choice of career.

“The barber who cut my hair and my father’s hair when I was a kid was Bob Di Angelo,” says Raccuglia. “Bob loved what he did and was so in love with the craft. I trusted him and let him do some crazy stuff to my hair. I used to see Bob, smiling and talking to people all day long, and he just looked so happy, so relaxed. My father is a high-powered attorney and to this day he still works so hard. I was a kid who played sports and who knew I wanted to enjoy what I would be doing for a living, so I went to Barber College and after one year, I went home to La Salle, IL to work at Bob’s shop.”

When a beautiful Vidal Sassoon haircut sported by a waitress caught his eye, he quit the shop to enroll at Pivot Point Academy in Chicago to learn to cut women’s hair. He would work at Vidal Sassoon for a short time before moving to London to work for Jingles Hair Academy.

“I taught precision haircutting for Jingles,” says Raccuglia. “During that time in London, I met these incredible people—Robert Lobetta, Anthony Mascolo, Trevor Sorbie. I used to walk into Trevor’s salon and sit and watch him cut hair. “

In 1985, he moved to work in the New York Jingles Academy, then to San Francisco, until he returned to Chicago to open Art & Science Salon with Laurence Hegarty. They became an early Aveda Concept Salon and for the next few years, Raccuglia concentrated on Art & Science, working occasionally with Aveda.

On a trip to Japan, Raccuglia discovered a water-based pomade called Cool Grease that would be his inspiration for American Crew. “This product, and the increased interest I was seeing in traditional barbering, put me on the path to creating a men’s brand,” Raccuglia said. “It seemed to me that men in 1994 were ready to go back to a good commitment to a regimen. It was becoming hip to admit to a woman that you used styling products. It was masculine to groom.”

American Crew took off. And Crew grew. It became, arguably, the number one men’s line in the professional beauty industry. Raccuglia explored other passions and pursuits (he is an accomplished photographer) but he recently announced his return to American Crew (now under the Revlon umbrella of brands) as a key creative consultant.

“The CEO of Revlon Professional, Lorenzo Delpani, is one of the biggest thinkers I have ever met. He loves the creative process, he will explore ideas and he want to really honor our professional heritage. It’s rare to find someone like him, someone willing to finance dreams.

“Today, the emphasis is on honing the craft, a return to classic barbering, and on perfecting the products. Now that there is an audience, the audience has become more specific. We don’t pigeonhole our customer. Crew wants to take care of everybody. We are for anyone interested in good grooming and quality oriented products.”

What set him off on his journey, continues to anchor his thinking and process.

“It has always been important to me that a father and a son have something to bond over. Crew is classic enough to cater to both father and son. “

What about Bob Di Angelo, his barbering angel?

“I saw him last week. He’s in his 70s, he still cuts my father’s hair and he’s still smiling.”

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