“When you enter a Toni & Guy in the US, it’s just another trendy hairdresser,” a friend told me before I left for my appointment at the franchise in Reykjavík. “When you enter the Toni & Guy on Laugavegur, you see the Bang & Olufsen stereo and think, they are going to charge me a lot!”
Indeed, the first and only franchised hairdresser in Iceland is not all that similar to its cousins in other countries. Starting from the pre-service: Instead of the usual filter coffee, you will be served cappuccino or latte. Instead of a regular gossip magazine, you will get the full gloss and weight of a Vogue book.
The main procedure, which is often reduced to the oversimplified phrase “getting a haircut,” starts with a style analysis at Toni & Guy. The customer is scanned from head to toe in the blink of an eye and accordingly guided towards choosing a suitable haircut. “It is not easy guessing the customer’s style or even character within two minutes, but it is absolutely essential,” says Hildur Arnadóttir, manager of the store in Reykjavík. “After all, if we did not try to adapt the haircut to each individual, not only the customer would be unhappy. It would be dead boring for the hairdresser as well.”
But the headquarters of Toni & Guy ensure their staff are more than just bored service people: Every employee has to attend an introductory training at the Toni & Guy Academy in London before starting to work for one of the franchises, and all franchises regularly send a couple of employees to the academy to get updated on new trends in hairdressing and fashion.
With around 400 shops from Australia to Russia, from Alaska to Hong Kong, globalization is also an important aspect for the Reykjavík branch: Managers from different parts of the world hold a share in it, and during busy times, the headquarters send staff from other franchises to Iceland to support the team.
“At the moment, we have a colleague from London here. Even with 24 employees, peak times can be extremely hectic,” says Arnadóttir.
At the moment, though, there is no need to hurry. After a relaxing wash and head massage, Hildur keeps me up to date on what is happening to my hair – without the patronizing blames disguised as haircare tips that many hairdressers excel in. Instead, she hums happily to a Wham tune the Bang & Olufsen sends through its high-quality speakers.
The spacious 300m² shop with its minimalistic interior design tops off this high-quality notion of a clean, well-organized professional business with the ambition to be more than just a common hairdresser’s – the Blue Lagoon among Reykjavík’s salons, if you like. Only the tourists are missing.
A final look in the mirror shows the procedure formerly called “getting a haircut,” all-inclusive with head massage and style analysis, is a success. The Bang & Olufsen is indeed no bluff.
Toni & Guy, Laugavegur 96,
101 Reykjavík, Tel: 511 6660
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