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Denida, Albania

I was not even 20 years old when the war started in our neighboring country, Yugoslavia. Refugees started arriving in Albania immediately, as well as aid organizations such as the Red Cross. Since I could speak English and Italian, I started working as a translator for them. That was exciting and intriguing work. The conflict also brought many Dutch people to Albania. As you can guess, that's how I met my husband.

At that time I already managed my own hair salon. Unofficially, I started in the profession at age 13 by doing my aunts' haircuts. They didn't like the style of the regular salons and preferred to have their hair done by me. When I was 17, one of them was the first bride whose hair and makeup I was allowed to do. That's how this all started.

I have lived in the Netherlands for 20 years now and have had this salon in my home for about four. It’s something I’ve always wanted. I work with one client at a time so it's very personal. I have a large group of loyal clients who keep returning to me. Besides that, I also take care of hair and makeup for brides. This year I have 35 weddings scheduled, eight of whom are brides from Germany and one who is from France. Somehow, they always manage to find me.

One bride I particularly remember. She was getting married but had such bad luck! Her mother had covid and was not able to make it to the wedding. And there were some more setbacks. She came to me and first had to cry for a bit. I cried along. Then we had a cup of coffee, to relax a little. Only then, we started to focus on her hair. A hairdresser is also a psychologist. People share everything with me. A day later, that woman sent me a message of the type that makes my job all worth it. So touching and grateful! It means the world to me.

I don't want to leave this town. My husband would like to go abroad, but I am perfectly happy here. I do want to travel, but my home is here. I do several video calls a day with my mother who remains in Albania. Sometimes ten times a day. We even eat together, along with my sister and brother. And of course I like to visit Albania, especially to see my family. But after three days or so, it’s enough. Then I want to go home to Noordwijk again.


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