Words & Photography Kirk Truman
“I work together with my clients to make sure they leave with beautiful hair, cut into a style that suits their lifestyle and needs…”
It is a paradox that the very best of things find themselves becoming the very best kept secrets. As is the case on the 1st floor of no. 37 Eastcastle Street, just feet from the hustling and bustling wails of Oxford Street; where sits the studio of a talented gentleman who has come to settle here in our neighbourhood; hair stylist Tomoyuki Otsuka. He told me of his Tokyo routes and the story behind his salon, Tomoyuki & Co.
Tomoyuki is no stranger to hair styling having quickly made a name for himself back home in Tokyo. Noted for his talent, around 8 years ago he was approached by a hair salon with chains all across Japan to launch their very first branch right here in the UK. Having spent 6 years working for the salon chain in the heart of Fitzrovia, Tomoyuki observed the neighbourhood feel of the area; its residents and transients, consequently falling in love with Fitzrovia and the clientele. This became his new home.
Otsuka’s approach to hair styling is unique in itself and somewhat personal. He believes in creating bespoke cuts and styles tailored to each individual client. He also believes in the importance of a hairdresser to take note of the vision and preference of the client. “I work together with my clients to make sure they leave with beautiful hair, cut into a style that suits their lifestyle and needs,” he explains. It’s almost no wonder at all that Tomoyuki being the perfectionist he is, has styled the hair of many icons and celebrities such as Olivia Palermo and Cara Delevingne.
His clients had often asked him about the possibility of opening his own salon, triggering something in his mind and setting the idea alight. He had already envisioned how he wanted his salon to be: a classic and minimalistic boutique feel in the heart of the city. A speciality of Otsuka’s is his individual and tailor-made hair treatments. He believes the success behind a beautiful cut and style begins with a healthy scalp. He explains the health of his clients’ scalps, giving them tips on how to treat their hair from root to tip.
Amid the array of galleries and boutiques that make for the character of Eastcastle Street, Tomoyuki & Co opened its doors in November 2013, on the 1st floor of door no. 37. Closely located to Market Place and Oxford Circus station, the salon is a neatly tucked away escape from the wicked west-end, revealed purely via word of mouth. Abiding Tomoyuki’s vision of a purely minimalistic salon space, the salon boasts neutral decor through and through, an enjoyable non-pressure salon environment where clients can enjoy the experience of the hair treatment Tomoyuki knows they deserve.
Whilst Tomoyuki fronts Tomoyuki & Co, other integral members of the team specialise in their own fields such as Iris, a highly experienced hairdresser from Germany specialising in cut and colour. In addition to hairstyling, the salon also offers services from wonderful nail technicians, who create the most exceptional looking nails using the latest colour trends, shapes and specialist nail art. In opening the salon, the team wanted to create a comfortable and relaxing environment where the clientele could escape the lively and busy streets of Fitzrovia, to which all team members contribute.
Bringing his far-eastern home to the Fitzrovia area, Tomoyuki always keeps a selection of impressive Japanese green teas at the salon for those who want to try a cup. The overall treatment of clients here is relaxed and calming. Be prepared for a wonderful head massage (in order to stimulate the scalp), followed by a bespoke hair treatment (cut and style). For those clients who live a busy city life, where time is precious, Tomoyuki & Co offers a manicure service at the same time as the haircut.
I discussed with Tomoyuki his decision to base his salon right here in the Fitzrovia neighbourhood. He felt that, due to the character of the area, this would be the perfect setting in which to open the salon. It was an area that he had begun to understand, getting to know the people and developing strong connections. In the heart of the capital and convenient for all clients to get to, Fitzrovia itself is his favourite area in London. Future aspirations look to opening a second salon and the creation of a personalised product line. A self-confessed hair geek, Tomoyuki will no doubt make sure to use only the very best ingredients in his merchandise.
In this neatly kept secret on Eastcastle Street Tomoyuki and his team have come to create a salon that is true to his ethos of hair styling whilst remaining true to the neighbourhood with its calming and diverse backdrop. With high ambition and drive, this small independent business is set to flourish in the years to come.