As a young boy, Tony Gereige would hover near his mother’s salon chair while she styled people’s hair, handing her scissors, combs, hair blowers, whatever tool she needed.

The owner of Saci Salon, who was just 12 years old at the time, didn’t think much about hanging around his mother’s chair, but this childhood fascination would set him on a course for a lengthy career in hair styling.

His work would take him all over the world, learning from some of the industry’s leading experts. From showcase stages and college classrooms to working with celebrities and international design teams, he’s had a rewarding career, Tony explains from Saci his shop at the corner of Erie Street and Highland Avenue.

Man cutting hair

“There’s no limit to what you can do in this industry,” he said, describing his passion for keeping up on the latest trends.

Tony’s been the lead stylist on a team of beautician experts for the regional Miss Universe Canada pageant. In the past five years the team has helped put the crowns on the perfectly coiffed heads of two Miss Canadas.

Tony also uses his skills to generously support the community, including hairstyling for Night to Shine, a worldwide prom event designed for people with developmental disabilities.

“That was one of our ways of giving back,” he said of his time with the organizers for two years in a row.

Man standing with arms crossed

The Miss Via Italia pageant is another passion of Tony’s. He styles hair for the popular event every year. It’s a natural fit for the man who grew up in Windsor’s Little Italy.

He’s long been a part of the neighbourhood fabric, being one of several Lebanese families in the area. He and his family lived near Erie and Parent Avenue before moving further east to Marentette.

“I’ll always gravitate to Erie Street,” Tony said. “I grew up here, I’ve owned several businesses here, or near here. I love it. There’s a rich culture here with the Italian history and multiculturalism that’s growing even more now.”

Outside sign for saci salon

Business owners in Via Italia often have a long history, with many of them having opened several shops over the years. Tony, who used to own a restaurant on Erie, went to grade school with Filip Rocca, president of the neighbourhood business association and owner of Mezzo Ristorante and Lounge.

 “We’re certainly a close community here,” Filip said. “Tony and I certainly go way back. It’s important to have people like him so loyal to the area. That’s what makes Via Italia so special.”

 Saci Salon is another family affair with Tony taking over the shop from his sister, who still cuts hair in the shop as part of the five-person team of stylists.

 For the man who grew up hanging around his mother’s home salon, lending a helping hand whenever he could, there’s no place he’d rather be and no job he’d rather have.