By Vasilis Vasilas
What is often impressive about shop-owners is how passionate they are about their work… even after so many years. Whether it is their eye for detail in perfecting their work or simply providing their customers with the best service, everything comes so natural to them. And they are amazing to watch…these maestros beyond the shop windows and counters.
And one of these maestros is definitely Angela Giokas of ‘Angela’s Hairdressing Salon’ at Rosebery and you cannot help being in awe of her love and care for her work, salon and customers. And what is amazing about Angela is she has running hairdressing salons- her first at Dalmeny Ave and her current salon- in Rosebery for 50 years!
As a teenager, Angela attended the Konstantokopoulos School for hairdressing in Tripolis; when her parents sent her money for daily expenses, she would not spend her money on ice-cream and sweets but saved up to buy her first pair of scissors (for cutting hair) and curlers! And so the passion began…
When Angela migrated to Sydney, Australia, her first jobs may have been in factories but she never ceased working as a hairdresser, whether going to people’s homes, working in Giannis and Soula’s hairdressing salon in St Peters, or working from home.
Angela provides invaluable insight into the busy life of Greek migrant women in the late 1960s, “Working from home had some very odd hours; working women, with children, could not come for a haircut or style at normal hours- as they were at work. So many customers would come early hours in the morning, get her haircut or styled and then go to work. Or they would come after dinner and putting their children to sleep… This was the migrant experience seen through women’s eyes…”
Gaining invaluable experience and confidence, Angela opened her own hairdressing salon on Dalmeny Avenue, Rosebery, in 1971. As business continued to grow, she moved the business to larger premises on Gardeners Road, Rosebery, and she has been here ever since.
Balancing motherhood and running such a successful hairdressing salon was not easy and Angela thanks her understanding customers, “When my young son, Kosta, was at the salon, they would keep him amused and even read to him! When I was so busy, all I would politely say to my (waiting) customers, ‘I will be with you as soon as I can.’ They were very supportive!”
Dealing with so many people over six decades, Angela has realised so much about human nature, “One of customers used to come into the salon and ask me to cut only a little bit off her hair. She would then come in the following week again and the week after that… for that same snip. When I was younger, I did not understand why she did this; only much later in life did I understand what this snip really meant. No matter what she experienced, how difficult life may have been, that snip made her feel better.”
Having practically grown up in his mother’s hairdressing salon, Angela’s son, Kostas, also followed this career path and works alongside her. Once Kosta married his wife, Anne, she also joined this dynamic team… All three are part of this dynamic team!
After 50 years in her salon(s), how does Angela maintain her passion for her work, “I still love working at our salon. I love my work and I love my customers. I enjoy seeing people happy after their hair has been styled; I love the ‘wow’ factor. Hairdressing is very social too. I enjoy all the company at the shop; we have our coffees and enjoyable conversations. It is like a café…!”
In all the time I was in the hairdressing salon, Angela, Kosta and Anne simply did not stop working in this very busy shop and what impressed me was the close rapport, with their customers, they have developed over the years, As Kosta explains, “Everyone was on first-name basis and there was such a friendly environment, with lots of laughter and smiles. This joy only comes after years and years of customer satisfaction.”
But it is Kosta who pays Angela a fitting tribute, “Mum is a great mentor for me and offers great advice. For instance, if we experience a tough day, she just assures everyone to do their work and, ‘Tomorrow is a new day.’ She has never complained about work; I have never heard my mother say she needs a break!’”
And yes, when I entered ‘Angela’s Hairdressing Salon’, one of the first things she noticed how much my hair had grown since the last time I visited her and I could not leave the salon without a reminder for a trim…