James Toscano is the owner and also a stylist at the highly recognized and acclaimed Toscano Hair Consultants and Toscano’s Rostraver Salon in Belle Vernon Pennsylvania. I recently had the pleasure of speaking in-depth with Jim and would like to share some of his insights.
*First Jim, let me thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.
JT: Thank you for asking me.
*I understand that you have been a stylist for over 30 years, correct?
JT: Yes, I have been in the industry for 42 years – as a barber since 1968 and as a Roffler stylist since 1970. I opened my barber shop in 1968 in West Newton and then opened the barber shop, beauty salon, and hair replacement center in 1978 at our current location in Belle Vernon.
*You have some very impressive credentials. You are a contributing editor with The National Hair Journal, are an expert in the Hair Replacement Industry, and you still work at your Salon and travel to others across the country and internationally teaching. Where do you get the time, and all the energy? (Laugh)
JT: I am the leader in the hair replacement industry in the world. I also travel, teaching hair replacement across the United States. I’ve been to China and Korea, both teaching and designing hair systems. I’ve been a feature writer for The National Hair Journal (a hair replacement magazine) and serve on the professional board of the Journal. My wife and I taught classes on 2 cruises. That was really great! I also work a 50-60 hour work week. How do I do all of this? Hair cutting and hair replacement is my passion. It’s easy when you love what you’re doing.
*I have read some of the professional and personal testimonies about your services, you and your team should be very proud.
JT: I am very proud of my team. From all facets of my business, I have a team who cares about each and every client – whether it’s for a haircut or hair replacement or a cancer patient who is losing their hair and needs a wig, we supply them with service, compassion, and always welcome them to “our family.”
*Can you tell me what still surprises you most about being a stylist?
JT: What surprises me most about being a stylist is that the industry has been heading in the wrong direction for a long time. When I interview a potential employee, I’m always surprised by how much they don’t know about hair cutting and service. When I look at some of the actors and newscasters on TV, I cringe.
*What brand(s) are you currently ‘addicted’ too?
JT: The brands of hair care products I use in the salon are from Italy Hair Fashions (Pittsburgh, PA) and my own hair care products, especially formulated for hair replacement.
*Do you have some basic but effective hair care tips?
JT: There are so many tips I could list – but a great one is: If you have any build-up of products on the hair, mix a teaspoon of baking soda with your shampoo. Wash your hair as you normally do, leaving the shampoo/soda mixture on the hair for 3-5 minutes. Rinse. This will remove the entire leftover product residue.
*What is the biggest hair care don’t?
JT: The biggest don’t in hair care is using unprofessional products. Products from grocery stores, Wal-Mart, etc. contain a lot of wax. This can coat the hair and make it lifeless.
*What is the most common mistake people make with hair color?
JT: The most common color problem is coloring at home. We get so many calls from people who color their hair at home to save money, but now have to come in to the salon because the color isn’t right – too dark, too blond, too orange. If you are considering color for your hair, you should always go to a salon. Over-the-counter color can wreak havoc on the hair.
*Are there any tools you simply cannot live without?
JT: The tools I use and can’t be without are my shears and my razors. I spend hundreds of dollars on my shears – $30 shears don’t “cut” it. I use a soft-steel razor, which gives an incredible cut, if you are trained in using it. Of course, a good blow dryer is a must and my staff couldn’t live without their flatirons and curling irons
*Does one need to splurge on high-end products or are drug store items just as good?
JT: I think there is a big misconception about hair care products. Yes, you should use professional products only. You’ll spend hundreds of dollars on color and highlighting, but use a $3.00 shampoo. Yes, professional products from your salon usually cost more. But, most of these products are concentrated, so you can use less product, which means you’re not going to buy your products as often. These products are also designed to work with color, helping with fading. Is that splurging? If you answer yes, then you should “splurge”!!!
*Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring stylists just starting out?
JT: I see so many people going into the hair industry who have no passion and no vision. All they want to do is cut and color hair. This attitude will not get that person anywhere. Anyone going into this industry should have a passion for people, their hair, and making them look and feel the best they can. I’ve worked with so many types of clients – those just getting a haircut, those who need advice on color or highlights, and those who have thinning hair or hair loss due to sickness or heredity. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed and I’ve hugged these clients who feel like their whole life is over because of their hair. If you don’t have the compassion to help these people, you shouldn’t be in this industry. Also, go to every class you can. There is so much information and new techniques that have to be learned after you leave school. Don’t ever hesitate to learn something new. And when the day comes that you feel you know everything – get out of the industry!!!
*Thank you again Jim for taking the time from your busy schedule to speak with us. We wish you and your family a happy holiday season, I’m sure you will be quite busy (laugh).
JT: Thank you so much for asking about me, my team and my business. We wish everyone a blessed Christmas season and a healthy New Year!
Toscano Hair Consultants web address is www.toscanohairconsultants.com
The phone number for your next appointment is 724.929.4900