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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


A match made in hairstyling heaven

By Annette McLeod
Toronto Sun

Like Johnny needed Ed, like George needed Gracie, every frontman needs a great sidekick, and Canadian entrepreneur Marc Anthony is ably matched by Rocky Vitelli.
Marc Anthony, left, and Rocky Vitelli, right, met on the tour circuit four years ago. Vitelli is now the creative director for Marc Anthony Salon.

Vitelli, 33, is the creative director for Marc Anthony Salon, a position that suits him well: he gets to keep a hands-on role on the salon floor, while enjoying more esoteric pursuits involved in travelling with shows, doing photo shoots and working with editorial staff on magazine and newspaper layouts.

Instant rapport

Anthony and Vitelli met on the tour circuit four years ago, where both were doing stage shows. They bumped into each other quite a bit, and since both are Canadian, had an instant rapport. At the time, Vitelli had his own salon that, while it was doing well, was no longer as fulfilling as it had been. When Anthony got wind of his colleague's discontent, he brought Vitelli on board. Anthony's vision of getting his professional products into consumers' hands as conveniently as possible while growing his business at the salons dovetailed perfectly with Vitelli's search for the next challenge. Vitelli sold his salon to his then-partner, and a new partnership was formed.

It's proven a successful one -- the Marc Anthony product line has grown five-fold since then, and is now available in 26,000 stores across the U.S., as well as in Canada, and Vitelli finds satisfaction in every aspect of his work.

"I love it all. The travel, helping develop new products, staying in close contact with clients. Marc works with the chemists initially, but then the entire team gets involved before it goes into production," Vitelli says.
  • They offer in-salon training programs to groom newly licensed hairstylists to become senior hairstylists.
  • They often accept co-op students from high schools and hairstyling schools.
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  • Vitelli, a former Ontario Champion and a Canadian Champion, says what really keeps him excited is "the way that fashion is constantly changing. Now, for instance, we're seeing soft curls in mahogany tones. Three or four months from now, it'll be something else we're excited about."

    But it's the personal effect hairstyling has that makes it most worthwhile.

    "To be part of changing someone's attitude beyond just their appearance, to have a hand in changing the way they feel about themselves, is such a good feeling," he says. "It brings it to another level." It's this possibility of having an impact on someone's life that got him into the business in the first place.

    The different aspects of his dynamic career feed off one another -- to be doing a show in L.A. one week, then back doing clients' hair in Toronto the next, keeps both aspects engaging and new.

    Vitelli couldn't be happier with the way his career is going, and encourages anyone with similar aspirations to keep an eye on the future.

    "It takes time to reach your goals. You have to be patient -- it really is the strong who survive. But if you stick it out, know your goals and keep working toward them, anything is possible."

    And a boss you can like as well as respect doesn't hurt. Of Anthony, Vitelli says: "He is very supportive, and very humble. He never has attitude. Everybody loves him wherever he goes."

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