Cataldo's celebrates 50 years of hairdressing in CanberraGiuseppe Cataldo in his salon in the 1960s. Photo: Supplied

Cataldo's celebrates 50 years of hairdressing in Canberra

Jil Hogan

It’s the name synonymous with hairdressing in Canberra, and this week Cataldo’s Salon turns 50.

Their first salon was opened in 1965 by Giuseppe Cataldo​ in Marcus Clarke Street, which was the outskirts of town at the time, and it wasn’t long before he had his young sons Emilio and Angelo Cataldo in helping out.

“My first memories were not really fond memories because any spare time we had we were made to go in to the salon and help our father so I vowed and declared I would never do hairdressing,” said Emilio.

“We were sweeping the floor, we were shampooing. And because we were rather young we couldn’t quite reach the heads of the clients we were shampooing so my father was very creative, he got a box made up for us so we could stand on the box and reach the clients.”

(Left to right) Angelo, Emilio and Aldo Cataldo celebrate the business's 50th birthday. Photo: Paul Chapman & Jess Smith (Left to right) Angelo, Emilio and Aldo Cataldo celebrate the business’s 50th birthday. Photo: Paul Chapman & Jess Smith

Everything changed for Emilio in 1973 when his father invited him to a hair show.

“It was glamorous and exciting. I was inspired. And so I enthusiastically joined my father’s small business,” he said.

It wasn’t long before brother Angelo followed suit, and along with sister Anna, other brother Aldo and their extended families, they run the business to this day.

The Cataldo family extends beyond blood to include long-time business partner Karen Spradau,​ who runs the Woden salon.

“We consider our family to be more than just those who share our surname. Our family includes hundreds of apprentices and stylists that we have trained over the years. Many are practicing and teaching their craft around the world,” said Emilio.

“We are fortunate to work in a profession where we can wake up every day and feel good about what we do.”

Even 50 years on, the brand, which continues to be one of the city’s top salons, is still expanding. The Northbourne Avenue salon is moving to Ainslie Place in early 2016, with a focus on the ultimate customer experience.

“We are about to embark on a new salon and we are really looking at how we can enhance the human experience,” said Emilio.

“Today we live in a dehumanised, digital world. Now, more than ever, experiences like having your hair styled – where people can have genuine human, tactile experiences, real conversation – are increasingly rare, and something to be valued.”

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