Published: 10:02, 15 October 2020
| Updated: 10:03, 15 October 2020
After 50 years of business, hairdresser Luigi Antoncini knows a secret or two.
Owner of Luigi, near the Lions Garage roundabout in Gravesend , he has been cutting hair since he was 12 after moving to England more than 59 years ago from Viggiano in Italy.
Nine years prior to the launch of the unisex hairdresser's, Luigi worked at The Continental Barber shop in Town Pier Square, which is thought to have opened in 1830.
He took a leap of faith in 1970 and launched Luigi Unisex Italian Hairdresser.
Since then, he has built up a much-admired salon which has maintained a number of loyal customers, many of whom are now good friends.
Now 79, his son Enzo and daughter Camilla help run the salon.
He said: "I have enjoyed every minute of it. I love the social life and talking to people.
"I had one kid in the shop who said his great-grandfather had come in for a haircut once, I couldn't believe it – four generations in my shop.
"I've had customers come in from Australia, New Zealand and it was brilliant, I loved hearing their stories."
Due to Covid-19, Luigi has been advised to stay at home as much as possible and not to work.
He added: "I really want to go back to work, I feel good enough to but I don't want to take a chance yet.
"I would love to go back. I pop down the shop to have a chat with the customers sometimes because I miss it."
When asked what his secret to maintaining a successful business for 50 years was, he said: "Enjoy life, enjoy people, because in my game you meet them all.
"You meet the good, the bad and the ugly; you just treat them all the same."
And while he's shared chats about holidays, the weather and tales he'll never reveal, there's one topic off limits.
"My advice? Never, ever ask people what they do for a living. I had a person once, for instance, who was the chief of police for Kent and I didn't even know who he was, because it didn't matter."
Luigi was joined at the anniversary celebration by his family and loyal customers from over the years.
Customer David Hurley, who was at the event, said: "Whenever one visits Luigi's for a splendid hairdressing experience, one is always regaled with tales of how Naples Football Club are doing.
"It is always a pleasure to visit and one always gets a warm welcome and a superb hairdressing creation, as some customers call it."