When Kim Dae-sik was tapping British brands to bring to Korea in the early 1990s, not many were interested.
It wasn't until about 10 years later when UK labels such as Lush started launching here.
"Back in the early '90s, a lot of British people didn't even know where Korea was," Kim, chief executive of Toni & Guy Korea, said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
Kim, who had been working for Samsung C&T in London since 1989, then set his eyes on the popular hairdressing brand thanks to his wife Chung Song-joo who successfully ran a hair salon in New Malden a suburb of London.
The hairdressing and training business, founded in London in 1963 by brothers Toni and Guy Mascolo, has about 500 salons across 42 countries including 21 in Korea. Kim plans to increase the number here to 30 this year.
"Vidal Sassoon reigned as the leader of the global hairdressing business until the 1990s, but after him, there was no such prominent figure in the industry. Then Toni & Guy started to rise," Kim said.
"Toni & Guy, winner of dozens of British hairdressing awards, now provides the most renowned training programs for hair designers around the world, for which we send our designers from Seoul to London once or twice a year."
When Kim opened his first Toni & Guy salon in Seoul in 1994, it was not an exclusive partnership. Other people were running Toni & Guy salons in places including in front of Sungshin Women's University.