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The Hair Factory at Bryndwr turns 40 in April, an anniversary which has prompted plenty of reminiscing for Monk and her clients, including 101-year-old Margaret Mabin who has been going there since it started.
When Monk was just 23 she was able to buy the salon business, realising a dream she had had since leaving school at the age of 17 to become a hairdresser.
“I knew it would give me an income for as long as I wanted,” she said, recalling it was just pure luck that enabled her to make the purchase in the first place.
Monk had been in Australia for about two years, when she and two of her hairdressing colleagues were flattered to receive a $2 tip.
“And it wasn’t enough for afternoon tea, so we bought a lottery ticket with it,” she said.
Their Sydney State Lottery ticket was a winner, enabling Monk to set up her business back in her home city, naming it The Hair Factory.
In the 40 years since, she has washed, coloured, cut, trimmed and dried the locks of thousands of clients, and heard about many of the happenings in their lives.
“Someone can tell you something because they know you don’t know all their friends and family, so it’s not going to go any further,” Monk said.
“My clients, a lot of them are older now, they really just tell me about their life stories, it’s quite interesting,” she said.
“I’ve tended four generations in one family and three generations in another.”
Her clients include former All Blacks forward Kevin Meates as well as members of the Crusaders.
“You get a following, people like you, you actually become friends with them, just in work, not outside of work, but you do, you become friends. I’m pretty lucky, I have a great clientele.”
Margaret has been going to the salon ever since it opened.
“I have known her since she was a girl,” Margaret said.
In fact, Margaret said she has never coloured her hair, and has always had it relatively short after becoming a fan of this style from the days when Eton crops were the rage. Margaret is practical on the grooming front as well, washing her hair with whatever soap she has to hand, and not caring for the luxury of shampoo or conditioner.
“Because when I was growing up I don’t think there were any, everybody just used Sunlight soap. I don’t think there was any of those herbal treatments and goodness knows what they use these days,” Margaret said.
And it does not appear to have done any harm.
“She’s got beautiful hair, she’s got a wave and it’s always sat nice,” Monk said.
As well as talking hair, the two women like to catch up with whatever is happening in their lives, and have had many family milestones to share over the years such as births, marriages and anniversaries.