One of the things I really enjoy about our town is the number of entrepreneurs we seem to attract. From restaurateurs to brewers, artisans to shopkeepers, and recently we have the addition of a fantastic new hairstylist. When I say new, I mean new in the business sense, for the owner of Rosario Greco Styles is certainly not new to hairdressing.
Rosario was born in Sicily, and moved to Toronto with his family, when he was four years old. He came by his trade honestly, as his father, Vincenzo, was a barber in Italy. After establishing himself in Canada, he worked at the Playboy Barbershop, something he never told his wife.
Four kids however, created a need for basic benefits and a steady income, so Vincenzo took a position at General Motors, maintaining his barbering career on a part time basis. As soon as Rosario was old enough, he began to work in the shop his father worked in, mostly sweeping the floors.
Vincenzo opened a shop in Pickering, and Rosario continued to help out. When he turned 16 he enrolled in Bruno’s School of Hairdressing in Toronto. It was one of the most respected hairdressing schools available. In 1981, Rosario graduated and was licensed as a hairdresser.
He continued to work part time, however, and it was not long until Rosario partnered with his father and the duo opened a hair salon called ‘L’Amour’. Their slogan was ‘A Downtown Look with Suburban Prices.’ Business was not easy, as they were competing with Super Clips and First Choice, both discount hair salons.
Hard work and a very talented and creative father and son team, was the formula for success and in 1984, they opened a second shop. The slogan for this salon was ‘L’amour Hair, where your good looking image begins’. Business was good, and in 1987, a third location was added to the chain. Rosario’s sister Josie joined the operation, and the two siblings still work together today.
Three salons would be enough for most entrepreneurs, but not for the Greco clan. In 1989 they opened a restaurant at Meadowvale and Highway 401, in the same plaza as one of their salons. The eatery was called Shrambo’s and was a joint venture between Rosario and his boyhood friend, Joey.
“It was one of the best times of my life,” Rosario recalls. “My father and Joey’s dad met on the boat coming over from the old country. Naturally we hung out together and became best friends.” It is a friendship which remains today, and quite often Joey can be found participating in local events, where Rosario has a large presence.
The salons were doing very well, mainly because they appealed to all sectors of the hair industry. Rosario’s pleasant personality and wonderful people skills certainly helped. During the first half of the nineties, Rosario was an active participant and board member of the Guild of Hair Design, becoming the organization's Vice-President.
After twelve years of owning, operating and managing three salons, Rosario decided it was time for a change. He sold the businesses and moved to Port Perry, a town he and his brothers dearly loved. Rosario started working and managing Jingles, a renowned salon in Toronto. He built the organization into 13 employees, and managed it for 15 years.
Traveling to Toronto on a daily basis is tough on any of us, so Rosario, known for his mentoring skills, helped a local friend open a salon in Port Perry. He spent two days a week in town, and began to grow within the community.
An indicator of how rooted he is in the hairdressing community came when he invented the Quisk, a device for mixing hair colour. The product is in production and continues to do well.
In 2013 Rosario decided it was time to venture on his own again, and opened Rosario Greco Styles, on Wilbur Street. He renovated a century house in a great location, beside the Petrocan station, across from the Pioneer station.
His first order of business was to hire another stylist. Rosario's brother introduced him to a local stylist, who had emigrated from England, and was developing a great reputation. It was not long before Paul Rogers joined Rosario, and their chemistry worked well to the benefit of their clients.
With a staff of seven, including his sister Josie, a colour specialist, the business flourished. Their campaign, ‘Ladies of Distinction’, in 2014, introduced Rosario into Port Perry’s business community. He quickly joined the Chamber of Commerce, and joined the board as a director. Rosario became involved in a revolutionary hair loss treatment for sufferers of the side effects of cancer treatment.
Selflessly, he began a campaign to build a playhouse for a little four year old girl who was afflicted with cancer. He instantly raised enough money, and hired a company to build the playhouse, which had to be downsized to fit in the family’s back yard.
Rosario Greco has embraced our community as if he was born here. He participates in most events and still finds time to be guest speaker at various modeling events. He is the recognized chairperson for Canadian [hair] Competitions, as an evaluator of skill and techniques.
Many know Rosario as a fantastic hairdresser, but what most don’t know is that he gives an equal amount of his time to the community, participating in events, causes and anywhere he is needed. If you have not met him, pop up at any event and listen for the loudest, heartiest laugh in the crowd. You will instantly become a friend.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a photographer, author, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures at photosNtravel.com.
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Jonathan van Bilsen
Join Jonathan van Bilsen in the Standard as he begins a series of feature articles on prominent residents of North Durham in his new column, The Story Behind The Person.