by Joe Mindak
Statistics show that one in twelve new businesses fail in the first year—one in six in the first five years. Hoboken is no different. In fact, many people would say the business community in Hoboken has been hit even harder over the past five years. But that hasn’t stopped some businesses from thriving here in the Mile Square.
It was five years ago that Kevin Cale and I decided to launch our own magazine, and we haven’t looked back. As we hit that five-year mark, I recalled those businesses we met as we were starting out, and how we were all still in this today. We all launched around the same time and have gone through a lot of the same struggles, somehow managing to come out on top.
In celebration of hitting this milestone together, we check back in with some of these businesses partners who we now call friends.
Bringing International Style to the Mile Square
I met Whitney Blischke and Peter Kain Villavicencio when I had received a call about Toni & Guy—a new salon opening up in Hoboken at the new Maxwell Place. Having had the same hairstyle since the eighth grade, frankly I had not had much experience with the salon industry. But entering their newly opened salon totally changed my perception of what I thought salons were supposed to be.
I had thought it would be little more than rows of chairs and a line of tables with woman getting their nails done. Toni & Guy was not like that at all—it was more of an experience than a salon. The lights were bright, the music was pumping and the overall vibe was more welcoming than I ever imagined. I was greeted by a friendly receptionist who offered me water, tea or even a glass of wine. If this is what salons are supposed to be, then maybe it was time to change my outdated hairstyle.
Meeting Whitney and Peter took the experience to another level. Here was this hip couple that had such a passion for what they were doing it was inspiring. And they were from Texas. In that moment I knew Hoboken was becoming a new town..
The couple made their way up the ranks at Toni & Guy, and when the opportunity arose to take the brand to the East Coast they were on top of it. Being a huge brand in Europe, Toni & Guy expanded to the US in 1999 by capitalizing on the expansive growth of Dallas. The East Coast would be the next logical step, and Toni & Guy setup a training facility in the city for their stylists. Not only is Toni & Guy a salon, but they train their stylists in the latest trends, colors etc.—for their own employees as well as other salon employees. Already having a presence in the NYC, they ventured out to look for a spot in New Jersey that would be a suitable location. As they drove down Sinatra Drive, they knew that Hoboken would be the perfect place.
As a result, Whitney and Peter have made Hoboken their home, becoming heavily involved in the community and very active with their children at Wallace School. They attribute their success to continuing to build a brand rather than simply opening a salon. Clients travel from New York and all parts of New Jersey just to come to Toni & Guy. They also take pride in training their staff on a continuous basis, making sure the staff follows their passion—which clients always notice.
Most of their original employees are still with them five years later, remaining inspired as they express themselves through their work. They feel great about making their client’s experience a really good part of their own day. Peter stated, “as long as we like what we do, we don’t have to worry about our job.”
The future of Toni & Guy looks bright, and Whitney and Peter have plans to continue to grow the brand Hoboken, while but will potentially seeking out additional locations. For now they are content in the Mile Square continue to keep it at the height of fashion.
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