A Powerful Partnership: Mario and Cheryl Tricoci


The successful husband and wife tell the story of the eponymous empire.

From the outside looking in, the life of beauty pioneers Cheryl and Mario Tricoci seems to be one of luxurious travel, exquisite homes and gala events. And while they admit to living quite the glam life, this Chicago couple’s dedication to hard work and innovative thinking is what made them one of the city’s most endearing success stories. And it all started rather inconspicuously during a conversation at the dinner table between Cheryl and Mario.

“It was 1976; I wasn’t happy with what I was doing and what was going on in the industry,” recalls Mr. Tricoci, who started as an apprentice at a barbershop in his hometown of Cosenza, Italy. “At that same time, I realized I was very good at cutting hair. I had the vision to see the end result before I started. Instinctively, I knew it was the right time to start a new concept around the ideas of cutting and styling. No more rollers. I wanted to create a world-class hair color and cut that was easy to maintain in a space filled with superior interiors. We made the clients the forefront – not the hairdressers – and created a culture in which everyone who worked with us could deliver on the promise they made to the client.”

Of course, Mr. Tricoci’s ideas had a few skeptics. “Mario would come home and I honestly thought his ideas were brilliant, but everyone else thought we were crazy,” recalls Ms. Tricoci, the visionary behind the brand’s day spa concept. “They weren’t called hair salons back then; they were called beauty shops, and they were found in department stores where people went once a week every Friday morning. It was a whole different time than it is now.”

Luckily, the Tricocis followed through with their shared vision and strong belief. They took an unwanted salon at the dead end of Woodfield Mall and turned it into one of the world’s best-known brands. Based in Illinois, with 13 full-service Mario Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa locations and four Tricoci Too salons (for hair style and color only), the company also merged with Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas in 2001, and Mr. Tricoci launched Tricoci University of Beauty Culture soon after.

Ms. Tricoci, who continues to play an advisory role to all departments, especially face and body, says the perception of their salons and day spas is still the same as when they started. “It’s a zone of relaxation,” she explains. “It’s about getting rejuvenated one day at a time. My gratification as a professional is about making a woman look and feel good. And then I get paid on top of that – how good is that?”

Mr. Tricoci also remains committed to the next generation of hairdressers. He’s currently a member of the board of directors of Intercoiffure Mondial, a global organization headquartered in Paris and Switzerland, and he’s an honorary member of the Cosmetologists Chicago Association. “Cheryl and I also travel a great deal to Europe and work with a foundation focusing on young professional hairstylists,” he says. “It’s my way of giving back to the industry that has given me so much and helped on a global level to further establish our culture and protocol, which ultimately sets us apart from the average salon and day spa. I’ve done my best for years to elevate and raise the bar within this industry and help make sure we continue to embrace this profession into the future.”

“We love to travel and we love what we do,” adds Ms. Tricoci while enjoying time at their vacation home in Colorado. “We’ve been so fortunate through the business to meet people from all over the world and have fun at the same time. The most perfect days and times are with your family and friends. Yesterday was a perfect day. Mario and I got up early and started to cook and put together a wonderful meal we shared outside with friends later at dinner. We laughed, talked and cleaned the kitchen. We even found time to go play a few holes of golf.”

“Not me,” quickly chimes Mr. Tricoci. “Cheryl is the golfer.”

“Well, I have my own caddy and pro here, and it’s a new thing I’m learning,” she chuckles. “But seriously, it’s quite a wonderful life.”

Matt Ferguson Photograph


About Tricia Despres

Tricia Despres is a graduate of Northern Illinois University Journalism and has worked for seven years in Chicago’s advertising community before becoming a stay-at-home mom in 2001. For the next seven years, between changing dirty diapers and drying tears, she began writing again. She covers a variety of issues for TCW, including health and fitness, dining, and business and workplace trends.