The hairdresser with a record of achievements, Kath Ilijoski

“I have met so many incredible people along the way. Experiences and achievements like this have shaped me into the hairdresser and person I am today for which I am very grateful for.”

When did 121 Hair first open and what was the story behind it?

121 Hair first opened in April 2006. The story behind the salon was giving our clients a one-on-one experience. I have over 29 years experience in hairdressing, with the last 18 being in my own salon. I wanted to open the salon because my love for hairdressing means much more than simply cutting hair; I wanted to make everyone that stepped into the salon feel loved and looked after. The whole 121 Hair experience is something I pride myself on and all of my staff members feel the same. 121 Hair has also given their staff members the opportunity to gain as much experience as possible, grow as a human being and give them opportunities to find love in something they are passionate about.

What made you choose Queanbeyan for your business?

I chose for 121 Hair to be based in Queanbeyan because I am born and bred here. I love the community and the salon feels like it is truly part of it. I adore my clients, and it is special to still have friends old and new, teachers and family members coming in. I’ve got many clients that have been here since the beginning, that have seen my salon grow into what it is today. As well as people that I’ve watched grow up, from when I’d cut their hair as babies, into adults today. The connections I’ve formed in Queanbeyan as a small business are remarkable, because I have felt so supported by those around me, with our growing list of new clients, as well as those from Canberra who come across the border to experience the 121 Hair community.

Why did you become a hairdresser and what is the best part of your job?

I became a hairdresser because I have always loved being surrounded by fashion, whether it was clothes, beauty or hair. The best part of hairdressing for me, is experiencing Fashion weeks around the world, photoshoots, bridal and more. It is such a vast industry that has opened up so many doors for my staff and I. I also find it so rewarding giving back to the fashion industry, with apprentice education and encouraging my staff and clients to express themselves in the way that represents themselves. That is what I believe is most important about fashion so to be able to have an impact on it everyday is very rewarding.

Biggest achievements?

I have a few career highlights but the two most notable are being able to fundraise for causes that are extremely important to me. I have been hosting fundraisers for 18 years, supporting charities such as The National Breast cancer foundation, Sids and Kids, Style for life, Win the day, Love your sister, MS Foundation Australia and some smaller ones along the way such as Worlds Greatest shave and Motivate Football Academy collecting football gear. All of these fundraisers mean equally as much to me because I want to make an impact and do what I can because of the position I am in and the power 121 Hair holds in its strong community. Another big achievement was being a stylist at New York Fashion week where I was surrounded by world renound brands, models, hairdressers and makeup artists alike. It was an incredible experience that I learnt a lot from due to the high pressure environment but I have met so many incredible people along the way. Experiences and achievements like this have shaped me into the hairdresser and person I am today for which I am very grateful.

Biggest challenges in your career and running your own business?

The biggest challenge in my career is ensuring my business can still be around for years to come. The challenge is staying current and a safe space for clients. I have provided services for the community for over 20 years and want to continue doing so. I also believe I have a responsibility to promote hairdressing to the next generations and see it as an important industry that can be a long term career. For running my own business, it’s been a challenge raising my children at the same time. The salon is part of our family and we are proud of it. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and kids which made the tough times a lot easier. That’s what I would say to anyone trying to begin their own business, make sure you have somebody there to support you because it is challenging to have your own business without letting it take over your life negatively. It’s all about balance, and that’s something I’m still learning today.

Style tips for the season?

A big theme for 2023 as a whole, is a lot more people looking after their hair and making it part of self care routines. Without being biased, I genuinely believe looking after our hair makes a world of difference to how we feel. Therefore I believe there will be a lot more healthy hair walking around this year. I encourage anyone wanting to know and learn more to get in contact with the salon. One of my absolute favourite looks is a slick bun. We have a few products in the salon that can help assist with this look, but I believe right now it’s the perfect summer hairstyle that looks so clean and neat. Another style tip is getting layers and textures that shape the face. Lastly, I think my final style tip is to try new things with your hair. Don’t be afraid to change it up, even if it’s getting a big chop, to simply change the type of ponytail or add in clips or headbands. Use your hair as a way to express yourself.

How would you like to see Queanbeyan grow in the future?

I believe Queanbeyan could grow in a way for young people to have more opportunities to work and live here. I love this place because of the community, so I hope that the government and council can put more investment into the town to give people a reason to stay which will allow small businesses to operate for years to come. More industries, future prospects and job opportunities will allow Queanbeyan to continue growing its population. I want Queanbeyan to flourish because of its potential as a town and special community that call it home.