HELENA VAN de LAAK – LEBER
Born 1941, in Senožeče, Slovenia.
Arrived in Australia 1958 on the refugee ship ‘Oceania‘.
“I needed to find a job. My aunty took me to a wool factory, where she worked as a machinist. There I stayed for a whole week until i could not stomach the repetitive work and my English was minimal as well.
I told my aunty, that I would look for a job in my profession. Ha, ha, ha! Without English!
Every hairdressing shop on Sydney Road, Coburg and Brunswick was visited, until an Italian owner took pity on me (I knew some Italian language). I started working for 7 days per week for half of the basic wage, because I had no Australian Certificate.
A client, a lady doctor, directed me to the Hairdressing Board, where I applied for exams, and passed.
My first Certificate hairdressing job was in John Vann Salon, 4th Floor, Manchester Unity Building, Corner of Collins and Swanston Streets, opposite Melbourne Town Hall.
After my marriage to Pierre, I worked with him on the 8th Floor – Pierre Vann Salon, continued at 32 Block Place, CBD, Melbourne, then to Glenferrie Road, Malvern Carpark Arcade – there were 2 salons. At the same time I also owned and managed a coffee lounge in the Arcade.
I bought another salon at 972 Toorak Road, Camberwell and another one in High Street, Armadale.
The exclusive, special clientele included the famous Myer Family, TV presenters and actors.
I offered job opportunities to newcomers from former Yugoslavia and later they purchased the businesses from me.”
Hairdressing College, Melbourne, Certificate of Hairdressing Profession, 1959
Vidal Sasoon College, Los Angeles, Certificate of Perfection in Cutting, 1989
Beauty College – Clarins, Paris, Certificate of Beauty Care, 1990
Business College, Melbourne, Certificate as a Teacher to Trainee Hairdressers, 1993
Competitions in Hair Styling:
New York, 1980 – placed in quarter final
Verona, Italy, 1983 – placed in quarter final
Health Inspectors – always exemplary
Technical Colleges – Complimentary Awards”
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