At the start of 2020, no one could have predicted what was to come. With rumblings of a new virus in Asia at the end of last year, it wasn’t until February until cases started to appear in Europe.
By the beginning of March, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic and by the end of the month, the whole world had closed down. For global companies such as TONI&GUY, the shutdown of the world’s economies brought challenges never seen before. “TONI&GUY is 57 years old and we have survived and thrived through recessions, but this was completely different. It has brought challenges we have never experienced and forced us to look at the business in a way that was unprecedented,” explains global creative director, Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck.
CEO Nigel Darwin joined the company at the start of 2019 and says initially it wasn’t clear how big Coronavirus was going to be. “We’ve had instances in Asia with Sars and Mers before, but once things began to grow in Italy, it became clear this wasn’t like anything we had seen before.
“Normal ways of working were no longer appropriate; we had to change our leadership and communication. Our focus is usually planning three or five years ahead; this changed to focusing on the tomorrow. Our number one concern was our communication with our teams, their mental and emotional health.”
Sacha, who worked closely with father and founder Toni Mascolo from the age of 17, used her knowledge to analyse the business and bring the community together. “While it was a scary time, it was also exciting,” she says. “We immediately set up groups and zoom calls with our partners and teams, sharing experiences and learning from each other. "
As we came out of lockdown and into reopening, Nigel explains how they had to manage expectations. “We knew nothing would be black and white so we had to make some assumptions for us to begin planning to reopen. We want TONI&GUY and the industry to come out of this stronger than ever.”
Cos Sakkas, international artistic director and nominee for British Hairdresser of the Year, UK
“We were quite late to lockdown in the UK but we knew it was coming. We had seen the effects of Coronavirus on our salons in Asia and Europe and knew we were next. However, it didn’t make it any easier. We suddenly went from being fully booked in the academy to being empty and clients not travelling to salons. And no one expected us to be isolating for quite so long! For us, the most important thing was to make sure all our teams were OK – there was a lot of uncertainty and fear and we spent the first few days making sure furlough was in place and people felt safe. "
Bill Watson, educational director for TONI&GUY Asia
“We have had virus warnings from China in the past, but we soon realised this was different. While face masks are the norm here, our main priority was to protect our teams and get the correct PPE.
Bronwyn Illingworth, director TONI&GUY New Zealand
We had 72 hours’ notice before lockdown but our prime minister, We had some support from the Government so apart from negotiating rents and loss of earnings, it wasn’t too challenging. We did some marketing on tips and hair hacks and kept everything upbeat and positive. We did this as a team and came up with
Jose Boix, head of TONI&GUY Spain
“Lockdown was announced on 13 March and initially the Spanish Government wanted salons to stay open because we were considered key to society. However, it wasn’t long before we realised we were going through a big health scare and clients were staying home, so it didn’t make sense to open. The lockdown has been very difficult for some people – many people were depressed and the uncertainty of jobs, families and the economy effected a lot of people"
Charity Cheah, co-founder TONI&GUY Italy
From the outset, we made sure we connected with our team and our clients – we constantly communicated in a positive and empathetic way and helped them navigate the ever-changing scenarios. We offered daily tips on how to care for their hair at home through virtual consultations, video tutorials, weekly Instagram Lives and focused on how to stay positive and centered. For our team we offered daily digital training and regular business zoom meetings and we were constantly connected with the global team. We were in lockdown for two and half months so we used this time constructively to strengthen their training needs with cutting and styling sessions, consultation skills and updating their education and soft skill needs so they felt that they would come back stronger than ever. The biggest challenge for us was bridging the physical distance between clients and hairdressers and we made it a priority to keep these relationships alive. We kept everyone connected and well-supported through various social media platforms.