The EGO Years — Tony Wood before Tony Wood Hair (1988 to 2007)

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The place: 88 Castle Road, Southsea. The year: 1990. Tony bought his first salon, named Nickelby’s, after working there for a couple of years as a newly-qualified stylist following his time at Hair of London in Portsmouth’s now-demolished Tricorn Centre. Nickelby’s had been founded in the early 80s by a certain Diane Palmer, in the space where David Western’s bridal couture can be found today.

The original salon will always hold a special place in my heart. I grew up there, really. I thought I knew it all at the age of 23, when I bought Nickelby’s from Diane, but it took me at least the next ten years to realise that I didn’t. I’ll never forget how Diane saw through my angsty mohican-clad façade and gave me the biggest opportunity of my life.
— Tony Wood

When he bought Nickelby’s in 1990, Tony renamed the salon ‘EGO’, which stood for ‘Every Girl’s Obsession’. What started as just Tony and an assistant soon grew into a thriving small business backed by a stellar team, eventually outgrowing 88 Castle Road and forcing Tony to find a larger premises. That’s when the clocktower came into play, but more on that later.

 Christmas at EGO

Christmas at EGO

EGO was where many of Tony’s most consistently foundational ideas and ideals were formed and nurtured. A fair few clients from the EGO era still visit Tony Wood Hair now, sharing fond memories of the salon’s reign between 1990 and 2007.

Whilst 88 Castle Road was the heart of EGO, Tony’s not one to rest on his laurels. He was quick to launch a second site in Portchester, followed by Portsmouth’s first ‘new generation’ barbershop in Osborne Road. It was also during the EGO era that Tony made his first forays into commercial hairdressing, styling hair for shows and photoshoots.

At the tail end of the 90s, Tony also started making his first waves in the waters of hairdressing education. He was no longer just nurturing his teams at EGO salons — he was now traveling the country providing training on behalf of a huge product company.

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 EGO Portchester

EGO Portchester

 Tony’s first hair show, in the 90s

Tony’s first hair show, in the 90s

 EGO in full swing

EGO in full swing

 Portsmouth’s first ‘new generation’ barbershop

Portsmouth’s first ‘new generation’ barbershop

 The EGO footie team!

The EGO footie team!

Halfway through the noughties, however, Tony had to come to terms with the fact that 88 Castle Road just wasn’t big enough for what he needed anymore. Many options for new premises presented themselves, but he had his sights set on one place in particular. The iconic clocktower, standing tall and proud just a little further down Castle Road, was his target.

The move harkened the end of the EGO era, and Tony made the difficult decision to retire the brand name, but worked hard to ensure the reputation he’d built wasn’t lost.

And so, the clocktower era began…