SAHBA Magazine – October 2019
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Grace Catania – 50+ Club Inductee
Grace Catania is a hairdresser, a teacher, a philanthropist and the matriarch of what is becoming a hairdressing dynasty. Grace, along with her husband Valentino (also a hairdresser) became the impetus of the Catania Group International brand that is in over 70 countries. But at the age of 48 Grace received her diploma in teaching from the University of South Australia and so she also began teaching at colleges and other private providers around Australia. And her philosophy of respecting the environment, care of communities, ethical and sustainable business practices and the empowerment of self-reliance, and daring to dream and achieve goals is also carried into her teaching.
Grace and her family have employed many hairdressers who have gone on to become successful business owners and employers themselves – including her 3 sons, grandchildren and extended family – well over 19 of them and who she says have inherited her passion for the craft.
Today, Grace continues to work on the salon floor, mentoring young hairdressers, and with her husband works with local charities and also travels Australia searching for indigenous herbs and plants to for their professional salon only haircare products. She’s says she’s excited about the future of hairdressing and she looks forward to her continued involvement in the industry. And she’s particularly proud of Australia’s high standards and talent being exported around the world and the respect it is given.
Sandra Sutton – 50+ Club Inductee
Sandra Sutton has had her salon in Westfield TTP for over 17 years. She comes from Mt Gambier where she says all her family were hairdressers! She went into hairdressing in 1964 when her mother put her on a bus to Melbourne to do a 14 month full time course at the Melbourne Academy of Hairdressing. After graduating from the Academy Sandra worked for Franquois Kramer who had 14 Salons in and around Melbourne.
After this time Sandra returned to Mt Gambier and worked for her Mum for the next 3 years. From there Sandra came to Adelaide and worked in various salons and subsequently became a salon owner herself with salons in Glenelg North and in Cumberland Park. She made the move from the western suburbs when she set up her Westfield Tee Tree plaza salon where she has been trading for the last 17 years.
Iliano Puccini – 50+ Club Inductee
Iliano (or Ian as he’s also known) says he was destined to be a hairdresser once his dad opened a Barber Shop in Hindley St in 1954. Ian said he started spending all his time, before and after school in the salon; and when his parents opened a ladies salon called Ninettes Beauty Salon for his sister Nilia in 1961, he followed her a few years later in 1965 to start his apprenticeship there.
Ninettes Hair City (as it became known) was into competitions and the salon won numerous Hairdressing Awards including “ nine times – the top salon award in SA”
Ian says his passion is haircutting , and in 1977 he won the State Title for “ Colour Cut & Blowwave “ and he followed this in 1980 & 1983 with 2nd place in the national haircutting championships
As well as competing Ian spent 3years on the Hairdressers Registration Board examining apprentices final exams for their Hairdressing Certificate
In 1983 he joined the Board of The Hairdressers Co-op and in 2010 he was privileged to become the Chairman of Board until he stepped down in 2017. In 1994 he moved from the Hindley Street salon and opened a new Salon Ninettes of North Adelaide where he has worked for the last 26 years and where he’s still working today and still enjoying it!
Mario Focarelli – 50+ Club Inductee
At the age of 12 Mario Focarelli would go to his brother’s barber shop and watch him cut hair. This, he says inspired him to be become a barber – just like his brother. So, in 1967 when his brother went back to Italy, Mario took over his business. And here he still is today 53 years later and still going strong – even with all the different hair styles that have come and gone over these years.
Mario says he feels very humble to know that his customers think highly of him. “Many become like family – especially when you have 4 generations of family members all still coming to the salon since 1967” he says. “Customers enjoy coming for a haircut, coffee and a chat. You know barbering was never just a job. It’s the friendships I made and being there for customers in need. I’ve also been a councillor and a shoulder to lean on.” Mario says. He says that soon it will be time for him to put his scissors down. But he says it’s going to be very hard to leave – though it will allow him more time with his family and friends. And when he retires he will be leaving on a high note and be grateful with all he’s achieved.
Anthony Gentile – 50+ Club Inductee
Tony Gentile left Muirden Business College to assist his mother Maria in very busy shampoo and set salon, which was converted from a garage next to their house. Tony says he was helping out there, while he thought about what he wanted to do with his life! Obviously, he decided on hairdressing.
Training in London with Vidal Sassoon followed – training that he brought back to his first salon in Klemzig where he worked with his mother, sister, sister in law and his wife Vivienne. Two other salons followed – one in St Peters and the other in Collinswood. But, when he became concerned that he couldn’t maintain his standards in 3 salons he decided to sell two and just kept Collinswood. He says that was a good business decision and Collinswood is an excellent location.
Other accomplishments include: national accredited competition judge; accredited judge for Apprentices to finish Trade School; State Trainer for Schwarzkopf and Haircare for 20 years; and Keune Australia for 25 years – travelling around Australia and overseas whilst enjoying the friendship and support of Geoff and Jan Gavin and Hans and Theresa van der Velden.
Today, Tony still maintains education is key to his success and staying at the top of his field. He says that to keep interested this long you need to keep evolving and keep your staff at their personal best. Tony is now in the process of reducing his hours, go’in fishin’ he says, and so is training his team to eventually take over the business
Maria Gentile – 50+ Club Inductee
Maria started her apprenticeship in Rome 72 years ago. Her father had to pay her boss to train her. How things have changed. Some 11 years later she arrived in Australia with her 2 boys to begin a new life. Maria worked for a short time for Madame Josephine in Hindley St until Maria’s husband Nick built a salon next to their home and in 1969 she took on her son Tony Gentile as an apprentice. Four years later, Tony opened his own salon and Maria followed him and is still with him 50 years later – working 5 hours a week looking after her remaining clients who have become her friends! It is rumoured that next year when she turns ninety, she may hang up her teasing comb and retire! Maria has been an inspiration to her son and all the staff who have worked at Gentiles Hairdressers.
Denis Harford – 50+ Club Inductee
Denis started in Men’s hairdressing 55 years ago before moving over to ladies hairdressing where he says he had a very strict boss who taught him discipline, giving good service with a smile – at all times – but also expected him to do a client every fifteen minutes! In 1972, Denis bought his first salon; and when he sold it 14 years later he decided to take a whole year off and enjoy some R&R. When he returned to the industry he changed from salon work and went into theatre work – first with the State Theatre and later the State Opera where he became Head of Wigs and Make-up. During his twenty-five years with State Opera, Denis received a Churchill Fellowship to study at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. And during this time he also did short courses with Vidal Sassoon, and make-up courses at an academy in Ealing. Today, Denis owns and runs Lustre Hair Studio in Hawthorn.
Jan Gauvin – Hall of Fame Inductee
Jan Gauvin commenced her hairdressing career in the mid 60s. Her first business venture began with Geoff in 1972 when they opened “De Gauvin salons”. Then in 1974 Geoff and Jan began a whole new chapter in their lives and registered the Haircare Company with a cash and carry at their home in prospect. From Humble beginnings, Haircare Company expanded rapidly with new product ranges and innovations and bigger new premises were continually needed to accommodate more staff and stock.
In 1976 first moved to Norwood then 2 years later Anzac Highway Keswick Cash and new carry stores were opened in Salisbury, Ascot Park, Gepps Cross, Findon and St Peters. 12 years on in 1988 another move to Payneham Rd, Stepney and The Haircare Company rebranded to Haircare Australia and expanded business interstate into WA and Victoria with many new portfolio brands.
Another 11 years forward and another move to Hindmarsh and the business grew into a true family business with all three sons taking on various roles in the company. Once again Haircare Australia ventures into new territories: new product development, the exporting of new ranges and a focus on education for salons and hairdressers.
After 40 years in business the business expansion reached a great height. In 2016 Haircare Australia opened an amazing, purpose built Head Office at Marleston, housing a massive warehouse, cash and carry and educational facilities. Currently, Haircare Australia employ over 200 staff and begun to expand internationally with offices in New Zealand and the UK, with many other countries on the horizon in the future.
Jan Gauvin is a driving force behind this amazing company. Her energy, her attention to detail and incredible determination and tenacity have never waned. She is tireless, work focused, devoted and continuously strives for excellence. Jan Gauvin, you are an inspiration and true icon of the Hairdressing and Beauty industry.