Vincent Castano’s business is to know what’s in style, and change with the times.
As one of the area’s longest operating salon owners, Castano has seen everything in hairstyling change from the feathering in the 70s, to the perming craze of the 80s, to hair dye in every colour of the rainbow.
As for his own style, Castano’s devotion to creating the perfect silhouette for his clients has inspired him to be a lifelong learner.
The owner and operator of Vincent Salon and Spa in Penetanguishene came to Canada on Christmas Eve 1967.
As a fresh graduate from hair dressing school in the northern Italian town of Torino, Castano was eager to learn and apprentice under his brother.
Six years later, he went into business with a partner in 1973.
The following year, his partner left, making Castano the owner and operator of his own salon.
In January this year, Castano celebrated 50 years in business in the same location in Penetanguishene.
Whatever your beliefs about destiny, there is definitely something in the air, or in the hair in this case, for Castano that has helped him succeed.
He speaks of the decision to cut out on his own as a whimsical turn of fate.
He met a business partner who planned to open a salon in Penetanguishene. They discussed the possibilities, and then Castano decided to go home to Italy.
“I had promised my mom I would go back to Italy after five years in Canada. So, I went home for Christmas,” says the veteran hairstylist. “I said, ‘Go ahead and open up, and I’ll be back after Christmas, and if you want me when I’m back I’ll join you’.”
When he came back in January 1973 the two went into business together. One year later, around Christmas of 1974, his partner left, and Castano had his own hair salon to run.
The road from then to now was filled with ups and downs, and a lot of learning.
Castano studied hairstyling straight out of high school. He graduated from hairdressing school on Nov. 30, 1967, and moved to Canada the next month.
“In those days, I had to put in 4,500 hours into my apprenticeship,” says Castano. "That’s about two years, working eight-hour days, five days a week. Then I went for George Brown College to take the hairdressing exam and got my licence.”
Once Castano was settled into his own business, he started thinking about how to make his business stronger while raising his family, and decided he needed to learn even more about his chosen craft.
“In the mid-70s and early 80s, I was taking courses three times a month to learn different ideas from people.”
When perms were all the rage in the early 80s, Castano went down with the spirals, and became a brand representative for 'perm-maker.'
During that time, Castano says he had a girl that came to work with him that quit after spending two days rinsing out perms at the sink.
Business was so good that the he renovated the salon in 1985.
Around that time, after 10 years making a case for curls, Castano changed to a horse of a different colour and got into colouring hair.
In the mid- to late-80s, Castano became a technical advisor for a hair dye company, and spent time travelling across Canada and into the U.S. to teach people about the products and various techniques.
“If you want to do something well, you got to teach it,” says the consummate colourist.
The transitions for Castano went with the trends in hairstyling, as is the case when your job is to keep people looking fresh, which led to another renovation in 2002-2003 when the salon also became a spa.
Three years later, after another change in the industry, a new company in hair care emerged — Davines changed the hair-care industry with their products, according to Castano.
As a B-corp company — a certification given to businesses that are committed to social and environmental performance at the highest levels — Davines is one of the most sustainable hair product companies in the world.
Their products are 98.9-per-cent biodegradable, which makes their hair products as organic as they can be, says Castano.
From the high chemical treatments of perms in the '80s to stocking and promoting the use of sustainable products, Castano has seen a lot of changes over the years.
The one thing that never goes out of style is making people feel good.
“I love making changes in people. I love shaping hair. People come in and you get to make them feel good.”
After 50 years in the business, “I’m not ready to hang up my scissors,” says Castano, adding: “I definitely would like to slow down.”
When you’ve been styling hair for 50 years, not only are you an expert, but your good reputation precedes you.
For his 50th year in business, Castano threw what he calls a bit of a party with a couple of hundred people.
People from all over the area, including politicians, attended the event — such is the appeal of a man committed not only to his work, but to keeping his business in the area.
“I enjoy seeing people,” he says, “I love the business.”