It has been eight years since the launch of the Mark Thawin Ultimate Hair Salon and much like its founder, the eponymously named business has certainly caught the eye during that time. Born to a Thai mother and a Filipino airline pilot, Mark Thawin is the middle child of seven siblings. His interest in fashion and beauty began at a young age. “I always enjoyed watching my mother get ready to go out and was especially intrigued when she would dye her hair a different colour,” he says. “Very early on I developed a keen interest in hair care and fashion and the artsy side of life.”
As a high school student, Mark already had his own regular personal hairdresser who was the first to encourage him to pursue hairstyling as a career. “At the end of my secondary education, I attended a number of hair dressing schools both in Thailand and abroad,” says Mark. These included courses with establishments such as Glamour, the Sassoon Academy and Toni&Guy in the UK.
Among his role models in life are Dr Somsak Chalachol and Vidal Sassoon. “In fact, many different people inspire me,” he says. “But what they all have in common is discipline and determination in everything they do. They offer examples that I can follow.”
The path to success was not always easy for Mark and, as is often the case, it entailed a few minor bumps along the way. “I actually opened a number of salons before setting up the Ultimate Hair Salon,” he explains. “However, these always seemed to coincide with my numerous styling courses abroad. I kept having to close them for the period that I was away, which is obviously not conducive to establishing a business.” Today however, Mark has managed to create a brand that not only provides some of the country’s most cutting-edge hair technologies and products, but one that also offers a warm and welcoming environment for both clients and staff.
“It took me around four years to complete the research and preparation process for opening the Ultimate Hair Salon,” he says. It was time well spent because business is doing great and Mark is forever grateful for being able to make a career out of something he loves, which cannot be said by everyone. But hair care isn’t his only interest. When it comes to standing out from the crowd, Mark Thawin is irrefutably a head turner. His sense of fashion, a creative amalgamation of bright colours and bold patterns, has caught the attention of many.
Mark’s favourite brands include Chanel, Bulgari, Balmain, Saint Laurent and Dior. Always lavishly dressed from head to toe, it comes as no surprise that it takes him about two hours to get ready each day. “My everyday look has to be a bit over the top,” he says. His wardrobe is an endless gallivant through haute couture but what Mark really cannot live without are his glasses and his hats. One might wonder why someone with such a keen interest in the world of fashion and such a captivating unique sense of style has not already started his own apparel label. “Actually I have considered starting my own fashion brand but there are so many things to take into consideration. It’s no piece of cake,” he smiles. “Who knows, maybe one day there will be a Mark Thawin collection.”
Behind the growing salon business and extravagant wardrobe there is another side of Mark that is perhaps lesser known. The fashionista dedicates much of his spare time to making merit at the temple and when asked what career path would he have chosen if fashion and hairstyling were not an option, he says, “I would definitely want to do something that benefits society.” In fact, he has already done some volunteer work mentoring and caring for needy children and although he seems to always be engulfed in the world of luxury and extravaganza, he is far from blind to the perpetual problems within Thai society. An aspect that he feels particularly strongly about is the lack of opportunities. “I want to see more equal opportunities in Thailand,” he says. “There are too many people out there taking advantage of others. And there are many who still believe other people’s problems do not concern them.” For Mark, it is about seeing the bigger picture and realising that if people do not come together, our society will only worsen with time. “Helping others is a spiritual blessing,” he says. “And it’s not just about donating money but rather about going out there and getting involved, helping to create opportunities and give people choices.”
Balancing time between work and his personal life can be a challenge with the hair salon to take care of and new projects he is currently working on including social media appearances. In addition, following his own experience with cosmetic surgery, Mark has a growing role as a consultant advising and guiding others to the right surgeons and clinics. To say he is busy is an understatement. “I haven’t been doing so well with time management lately,” he admits. “I have to do better at prioritising.” Despite his busy schedule, he still manages to spend quality time with his partner and his four-legged family. He has a soft spot for dogs, particularly his 10 puppies, which he cares for as if they were his own children. Most people would agree that it is difficult enough to properly care for one dog, let alone 10. For this reason, Mark has hired three people to look after the puppies. “Even though I know they are cared for while I am away, I still feel guilty leaving them each time,” he says. The puppies are unhappy when Mark is away and the man himself admits he misses them too and enjoys long snuggling sessions with them whenever he’s home.
It seems the pampered pooches are just going to have to put up with his absences because in addition to his busy work schedule Mark is a keen traveller who enjoys discovering remote corners of the world. Having traversed the world, there are still places left on his bucket list. “I really want to visit South Africa and the North Pole,” he says with a grin. “The Himalayas and Everest are also on the list.”
And the key to happiness? For Mark it is the path to Buddhism and its teachings.
More content: watch our quick Q&A with the fashion icon below.