There are only a handful of people who survive the cutthroat industry of show business and fewer have made themselves a household name. One of those that have risen above is Mark Anthony Rosales. If he seems familiar to you, it’s because you’ve most probably seen his body of work in a magazine, billboard, TV, Instagram or on all of the above. With his double tap-worthy hairstyle creations on top stars like Lovi Poe, Maris Racal, Klea Pineda, and Andrea Torres among others. But perhaps you know him best through his most notable muse: Gabbi Garcia.
Built into his DNA
But years before the A-list clientele, Mark was a marketing graduate working in a completely different industry—yearning to be part of a world where the hair was big and the dreams, even bigger. He started his hairstyling career around the same time Gabbi did 7 years ago and with the encouragement of his then partner Jason de los Reyes, Gabbi’s makeup artist, Mark started his career as a hairstylist. The trio has now worked with each other inseparably for almost a decade, becoming a family in the process, and shows no signs of slowing down.
He’s had his fair share of ups and downs in his years of becoming the sought-after hairstylist that he is now. His hard work and hours logged paid off big when he opened Marqed Salon last 2018. His DNA is undeniably felt in this venture that he calls his purpose and fruit of labor. From its name, Marqed Salon (a neat amalgamation of his and Monique’s first names), to its look, to the staff, up to the salon’s vision, you can see traces of Mark everywhere you look.
A strong and influencial partner
Mirroring his start as a hairstylist, there was also one person who influenced this career decision: his business partner Monique Morales. His strong partnership with her played a big part in making the salon a success. He shares,
“Monique is very supportive. I proved that especially in my trying times. I even call her my soulmate because she really is! Our partnership is very collaborative. It’s not just one person thinking about everything because we really help each other out. Kami kasi, we lay it all out on the table so that we can freely discuss and brainstorm things together.”
Furthermore, he credits their ability to compartmentalize work and personal relationship for their harmonious bond.
“What worked for us, I think, is that we started out as business partners then eventually became friends. So if it’s about work, we don’t take it personally.”
Similarly, Mark holds his relationship with his staff with much importance.
“They’re like family to us. In our business, the staff comes first because if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Even when companies were trimming down their staff to stay afloat when the pandemic hit, Mark and Monique tried to keep their staff intact and looked for ways to support them. He shares,
“The first three months, we provided them with ayuda and released their 13th month pay. But of course, that wasn’t sustainable so what we did is nagbenta na din kami ng mga product and napupunta siya sa staff. I also took it upon myself to keep the momentum going for my team of artists by conducting Zoom training sessions so they still felt like they were learning. I taught them new hair techniques and safety protocols because that was very important for me. Even before the government started rolling out the actual guidelines when the face-to-face set up was allowed again, they already had an idea on what they should be doing.”
Commitment to work
It’s not hard to see how this kind of commitment to his work and the people around him has translated into the salon’s success. But with all the triumphs he’s had in his career came the lack of luck in his personal life. He admits to overstuffing his schedule and saying yes to bookings because he relied on it to feel his value as a person.
“I’ve always felt like I had the solution for everything. Laging ‘kaya ko yan’ ang thinking ko. I would always say yes to projects and keep my professional life busy.”
But everything changed when he experienced his most difficult year yet. Not surprisingly though, it also proved to be the most pivotal— not only to his career but to him as an individual. “Up until the moment I experienced something that I couldn’t control and I almost lost everything, that’s when I really learned how to surrender to God.
Now at 32 years old, he’s more transformed than ever. He was reminded about what truly matters in life and how everything can be gone in a snap. This in turn has made him calmer and more mindful about how he lives his life now and the people that he surrounds himself with. In this exclusive, Mark opens up to Village Pipol and gets candid about the hard but important lessons he learned this year, opening a second Marqed Salon during the pandemic, and where he sees himself in the next 10 years.
You’re all set to open a new Marqed Salon branch in the South. Congratulations! Are you more excited or nervous?
Mark: “I’m feeling both, honestly! I’ve been experiencing a lot of feelings all at once as we grow closer to opening day but now my mindset is just this: whatever challenges, fears, or anxieties I have now, I leave it up to Him. This is all His hard work and grace.”
Can you tell us more about how this came to be?
Mark: “My newest business partner for Marqed Salon is Lucky Weidmann, a friend of Monique’s who’s always wanted to open a salon business. She was the one who initiated this partnership with us because she appreciated the innovative approach of Marqed Salon when it came to hair care. And since they didn’t want to compete with each other, they just decided to support each other and join the family.”
Some might say opening a new branch in the middle of a pandemic is a bold choice. What made you want to decide to do it?
Mark: “This partnership was actually very timely din. Kasi even if we’re located in Greenhills, most of my clients are from the south. Dinadayo lang talaga nila kami. And they ask me, ‘Why not open sa south?’ Now it’s finally happening! We’re about to open one.”
What can we expect from the new Marqed Salon South?
Mark: “Of course, we’ll continue the things we’ve started in our first branch. The same quality and purpose, made just a little more accessible to more people. I’ll be dividing my time between the two branches and training the new employees to give the same total hair care that our clients are used to. Also, because of the pandemic, we wanna be more active in creating and developing our in-house homecare products so our clients can have something to use even when they’re not at the salon. So we’re gonna launch more products in addition to our first release, Grape Shake.”
What do you think it is that makes Marqed Salon so special that clients keep coming back?
Mark: “We like doing things differently so that our clients experience something new and exciting. An example would be using a hair scanner to better assess your hair’s condition. We’re the first one to do that here in the Philippines.
“But more than that, I think it’s our core mission of helping people feel their most beautiful selves whenever they come to our salon and building meaningful relationships with them. By delivering on our promises of not just great hair but also a unique salon experience, they get value for their hard-earned money. It’s the good hair result and pleasant experience recall that makes them come back to #GetMarqed again.”
Not a lot of people may know about this but before Marqed Salon, there was another salon that you owned. Can you tell us a little bit more about your experience with your first salon?
Mark: “It was a few years back and unfortunately, it failed. Siguro it didn’t truly succeed because I didn’t know how to handle my staff back then the way I do now. I had a different approach and mindset, had no concrete business plan and no solid vision and I think those were the main factors why the first one didn’t work out. I honestly wasn’t thinking about opening another salon before Marqed. It really was just a beautiful serendipity that I met Nique and our visions were aligned.”
What do you remember about meeting Monique for the first time?
Mark: “It was actually just a very casual meet-up. We talked about my first salon venture and about life and didn’t even talk about the roles we might be having if we pushed through with the business. We just clicked and we were on the same page—na it wasn’t all about the return of investment but about purpose and both wanted for everyone who left our salon to feel happy and beautiful at the same time, even if they were just getting a haircut.”
This partnership must be going strong because you’re now nearing your third anniversary! How has creating this salon impacted your life?
Mark: “Marqed Salon, as what I mentioned in Gabbi and Khalil’s podcast, is the fruit of my labor as a hairstylist. And I think it’s gonna be my legacy as a hairstylist. It’s for everyone kasi, regardless if you’re a celebrity or not. I love creating looks for my celebrity muses but of course, show business is fickle. There will come a time when they’ll retire eventually. When that happens, I’ll still have this salon as a venue for my artistry for different kinds of people.”
Marqed Salon is known for its innovative take on hairstyling. And it seems that you guys are good at adapting quickly too, creating content even when you were closed during the pandemic. Was that intentional or planned at all?
Mark: “When it comes to the things we do for the salon, our plans aren’t set in stone naman. We have a business plan, but most of the time, it’s just a guide. We also tend to do spontaneous, out-of-the-blue things. So when the pandemic happened and they announced the lockdown—it was my birthday kaya di ko siya makalimutan!—ang naisip ko agad, “how can we reach out to our clients and still have that connection with them?” So we decided to be extra visible online. That’s how ‘Get Marqed at Home’ happened. They were just short DIY hair tutorials. I started the first 4 episodes then the collaboration with friends came after that. We tried to maintain that until we had the go signal to open again.”
You’ve always championed artistry and hardwork in your career as a hairstylist, that hairstyling is more than just hair. What do you think is a common misconception about hairstylists?
Mark: “I think people forget sometimes that hairstylists are artists. We are not just someone who cuts your hair with scissors; hair is an art form to us. It’s a beautiful collaboration between the client and the hairstylist. We train and hone our skills and techniques for years to give you the most professional hair services and to help you look and feel your best. There is as much science and studying in it as there is talent. There’s also a lot of patience, hard work, and long hours involved.”
Did you always want to be a hairstylist?
Mark: “No, I just really wanted to be part of the fashion industry. I met Lourd Ramos at an event. We were introduced and he asked me if I wanted to manage one of his Hothead salons. I was hesitant at first but my best friend encouraged me and I was having a quarter life crisis because that time, I had been working a corporate job for five years already and needed a change, really didn’t have an idea about a salon’s structure. I thought it was simple, just a place to get your hair cut or colored. But it’s so much more than that pala! So I did end up learning a lot about branding from my time working with Lourd. I really enjoyed working in a salon. It was so far from the industry I was working in before. I was meeting so many new people and attending fashion events. I was amazed with the fashion industry, just in love with it and the eagerness to be part of it became stronger.”
Do you think being the operations manager of Hothead Salon eventually helped you with your own salon years later?
Mark: “I’d like to think so. It helped me learn more about the business side of a salon. Like how to handle the supplies, inventory, and staff. You have to be innovative not just when it comes to hair but also with how you market your salon. I also learned that salons deal with physics and chemistry, alam mo ‘yun?”
You’re probably most known for being a hairstylist to celebrities. What drew you to that particular type of hairstyling?
Mark: “Siguro for me, it wasn’t really an active choice. I think at the time it was just the default standard or the goal when you want to excel in this line of work. But honestly for me, a big factor was opportunity and luck pa din. We had the opportunity to meet Gabbi around the time she was starting. Jason, Gabbi, and I, we all took a chance on each other. Swerte lang talaga kami kay Gabbi because even when her career was taking off na and she was offered more experienced makeup artists and hairstylists, kami pa rin ‘yung pinili niya.”
Any standout scenarios or unforgettable moments when you were just starting out?
Mark: “I started 24 or 25 and honestly there were a lot of sleepless nights. There were also a lot of “am I good enough?” “okay ba talaga to?”. ‘Yung mga ganun. You will really question a lot of things because it’s not a stable job and income. But the most shocking part there siguro is people always think na this job is glamourous. That’s only a façade and that’s only a fraction of what actually happens.”
Mark: “Siguro ang one incident noon na talagang until now di ko siya makalimutan even if na naforgive ko naman na. We were booked for a shoot. We arrived there really early, even the first ones there, then after an hour we were wondering na why they weren’t giving us the pegs. And apparently what happened was there was a commotion already happening and the producers didn’t want to compromise the look because they’ve never worked with us before. So we ended up packing and leaving the set. Naka prepare ka na, naka aset-up ka na and all but we still left. I think the hard part was that around that time, we had already built a portfolio, done work for celebrities pero you have to earn it pa rin talaga pala. Parang you still have to prove yourself over and over.”
Do you think there’s a big difference between being a hairstylist now and almost a decade ago when you started?
Mark: “I can see that creatives now are more aggressive. But in a way, they have to be. Now that everything’s digital, they have to post talaga. Bilib nga ako sakanila because ang sipag nila gumawa ng content. I guess trying to be a hairstylist in the social media age is an advantage din because everyone has an opportunity to show their talent. Before kasi referral, you have to network yourself in person and meet the people who works in the industry.”
What do you think are the non-negotiable values to be in this industry?
Mark: “I guess you always have to have respect, especially to your seniors. Just be kind to everyone because nothing is permanent in this world, especially in this industry so it’s better to be good to everyone. In terms of artistry, of course number one is you have to be innovative in your own way and definitely study up. But also, always remember to not be so harsh on yourself and try not to compare yourself to other artists. There is so much space in this world for all creatives.”
What’s been the highlight of your career as a hairstylist so far?
Mark: “Well, aside from Marqed Salon, I think I’d have to go with my shampoo commercial with Gabbi. Having a hair commercial is a dream come true for any hairstylist.”
This year has been challenging in a lot of different ways for everyone. How has it changed you personally?
Mark: “I realized na my relationship with my family will always be number one. I admit that I didn’t value them before. I got complacent kasi iniisip andiyan lang naman sila. But that was where I was wrong. It sounds cliché pero totoo talaga siya na whatever may be happening in your life, they will be there for you.
“I’ve also learned to be happy with just having a core group of friends. I’m a people person kasi so it’s very easy for me to make friends. But I’ve realized that it’s okay to be friendly, but I don’t always have to necessarily be close with everyone. And lastly, I re-discovered my relationship with God. When that time came when I couldn’t control everything happening in my life, nakakabaliw siya to the point na parang ayaw ko na. I was overthinking and I didn’t know what to do. But someone told me, “You know, there are things that you can’t control. But He can.” So I just let go. Dinasal ko na lang, good or bad, whatever it is, I told God, I’ll just follow. I just obeyed.”
What are you most thankful for right now?
Mark: “This second branch. Because it was an answered prayer. I credit all of it to God’s plan. Because the second branch of Marqed Salon has always been a plan. Sino bang may ayaw? Pero the time that it was supposed to happen— may pandemic and other very difficult challenges arose. I couldn’t even imagine na may magtitiwala pa sa amin after all the issues that surrounded me. Nahihiya ako sa team, ‘yung mga staff ko sa salon.
“Eh siyempre—alam mo naiiyak ako sa part na ‘to—iniisip ko nagta-trabaho lang naman sila, walang ipon tong mga ‘to, so bakit nadadamay sila sakin? Ang bigat-bigat. They don’t deserve this. I even asked Monique if we could change the name na lang. Let’s just change the name so the salon and staff won’t have to go through what I’m personally going through. Pero sabi niya lang, “Why would we change the name? We won’t. Instead we will endure it with you.” ‘Dun talaga ako kumuha ng lakas ng loob. That, and completely following His plan instead of my own, even when I don’t necessarily understand it.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Mark: “I still wanna do what I love: hairstyling. Because to put it simply, it feeds my soul. I want to train the new breed of hairstylists and continue to deliver on Marqed Salon’s purpose and promise of providing remarkable hair for everyone.”
What mark do you want to leave in this world?
Mark: “That no matter how difficult things can get, even if the whole world turns its back on you and judges you, God is just there and you can always trust in Him.”
Publisher | Richie de Quina & Gwynn Crisostomo
Editor-in-Chief | John Luke Chica
Junior Editor | Kobe Adam Joshua Laurena
PR & Advertising Manager | Josh Austria
Digital Manager | Allen Esteban
Words by Chin Ann Obiedo
Chin Ann is a weaver of words by profession, or at least that’s what she calls her love-hate (mostly love) relationship with the written word. When she’s not writing, she’s creating beauty and fashion looks at the most random times of the day and hangs out with her cats more than she should. She also loves Bangtan with all her heart and wishes she could live in the cinemas.