International Artistic Director and Head of Education Cos Sakkas discusses Toni&Guy’s Art Team Training Programme
One of the most important aspects of founder Toni Mascolo OBE’s legacy is the emphasis he placed on education. With training forming the backbone of the brand, Toni&Guy attracts the kind of talent who are keen to develop new skills and constantly evolve as hairdressers. Overseen by 2018 nominee for British Hairdresser of the Year, Cos Sakkas, we caught up with the multi-award-winning Artistic Director to find out about Art Team Training.
Hosted every Tuesday at the London academy – and once a month at the academy in Manchester by Jon Wilsdon and Georgie Mathers – Art Team Training is an extra curricular programme that’s open to all qualified Toni&Guy staff who have completed the vardering (finishing school) stage and want to keep progressing their skills and prospects.
Split into three groups, the first is Creative Club. Hosted by International Artistic Director Indira Schauwecker and Artistic Directors Sophie Springett and Jamie Devenish, the course spans a year and includes tutorials on all the new collections that the Art Team has been working on. “With a focus on demonstrations and the more hands-on workshops, this is practical learning at its very finest,” says Cos.
Covering all educational disciplines, from classic and barbering to editorial and photoshoot styles, participants are given insights into session styling with overviews following each London Fashion Week and London Fashion Week Men’s. Every October, after the launch of the latest Toni&Guy Creative Collection, the classes focus on the techniques demonstrated.
Whether committed to a career in education or just keen to keep up to date with the latest trends and techniques, Creative Club is essential for stylists who want to keep their scissor skills razor sharp. And the best thing about it is that while the overarching curriculum remains the same, the content of the classes is constantly evolving, reflecting fashion trends and the pioneering looks developed by Global Creative Director Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck and her team.
For newly qualified stylist and Breakthrough Team member Agnes Nemeiskyte from Toni&Guy Colchester, attending Creative Club is a no-brainer. “Everyone should join Creative Club. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just finished vardering or have been on the shop floor for five years,” she says. “It gives you the chance to hone your skills, learn something new, be inspired and get creative. I think that it’s really important to never stop learning and we get to do so from the best in the industry. And it’s free!” So while Creative Club is an essential step in the career of a future educator, it’s also incredibly beneficial for any hairdresser who wants to learn from colleagues on the frontline of fashion. And happily, says Cos, “Club members can drop in and out, cherry picking the topics that are relevant to them.”
Under the tutelage of Artistic Director Luke Harris and 2018-2019 London Hairdresser of the Year Philipp Haug, hairdressers who want to have a career as an educator move into the second group, Creative Education. “Once promoted into Creative Education, participants, through workshopping, focus on learning crucial skills such as how to give a presentation and how to run an educational workshop,” says Cos.
For Toni&Guy Long Acre (London) manager Abby Raworth, it’s a creative release. “I wanted to leave my comfort zone and see it as an outlet for my creativity,” she reflects. “I love it because, not only have I refreshed the classics and embraced new collections, I’ve learnt what goes into putting together a photoshoot, an academy course and, even as a stylist, gained a better understanding of colour trends. But what I’ve loved the most is learning how to use the clippers from scratch. Charlie Cullen [International Artistic Director and Head of Mens Education] has the patience of a saint and the most articulate way of teaching.”
Creative Direction, the third group and pinnacle of the programme, is geared towards hairdressers whose ambition it is to make it into Toni&Guy’s illustrious Art Team. Headed up by multi-award-winning, International Artistic Directors Efi Davies, who was presented with the BHA Avant Garde prize, and Daniele De Angelis, who is three-time finalist for London Hairdresser of the Year, the participants are given a presentation to complete and then can become official Art Team members. Having proved that they are capable of leading a team of hairdressers, members of the Art Team represent Toni&Guy around the world, delivering the brand’s values and skills through education, and become involved in the illustrious Toni&Guy and label.m campaigns. The latest inductee into this prestigious group is Charley Henery, who was made Technical Artistic Director in January, following her stunning presentation (pictured). “This role combines what I love – trends, teaching and colour,” she reflects. “It’s such a fabulous opportunity, one which I’m incredibly grateful for. My journey to becoming an Art Director has been challenging but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Toni&Guy Harrow’s Technical Director, Ian Phipps, impressed so much that he now works as a Technical Educator on the beginner’s course. “Being mentored by the Art Team really helps you to reach your potential”, he enthuses. “Without Art Team Training, I wouldn’t be as confident, not just as an educator but within myself.”
In true Toni&Guy style, when the classes end at 9pm, it’s straight to the pub for bonding and boozing, which often leads to long-lasting relationships. As Raworth says, “The classes are full of like-minded, creative people who start off nervous, not knowing anyone, but you walk away with inspiration, a new support system and good friends!”