Kristijana Jakulj – Hair stylist

Kristijana Jakulj

Kristijana Jakulj came to New York from Croatia in 2002 with her husband for their honeymoon.  They didn’t go back.  She likes to say that she’s still on her honeymoon.  She works at GiGi Salon & Styling Studio on 30th Ave.

For the first eight years that they were in New York, Kristijana and her husband lived on 30th Avenue at 44th Street.  This May they moved a few blocks up the same street.  “It was very hard to move,” she says.  “For me it was like moving from Croatia to here!”

She’s now settled in the new apartment and loves the sound of the overland train passing by in the mornings, though sometimes she misses the convenience of having everything right on their doorstep along 30th Ave.  Kristijana says that there is quite a big Croatian community in Astoria, with lots of Croatian bars and restaurants around Broadway.

Kristijana knew she wanted to be a hair stylist from around the age of six.  Every time that they went to a bookstore she would pick out something about hair instead of buying a regular kids book.  Her fashion-designer mom was upset by her choice, at that time.  “She always wanted me to go into college or something.”

When it came to sign up for school she was supposed to put down three options: her first choice and then two back-ups.  She put hair styling as number one and left the second two blank.  “What I most enjoy is that it’s like an art,” she says.  “And it’s so nice to know that you’re making someone really happy.”

Kristijana was in her teens during the war in Croatia.  Her town, Split, was not badly affected directly, though “it did affect the whole country in some way.  I remember us going to school and then sirens warning us to leave the buildings and go under the ground.  My mom always had a bag of stuff ready next to her bed.  And we had to turn the lights off after 4pm.”

The economy in Croatia was bad after the war.  When they came to New York, Kristijana’s husband, who had been in the restaurant business in Croatia, found work in construction.  Kristijana quickly found a job in a hair salon.  When the salon’s co-owner GiGi set up his own studio on 30th Ave in 2005 she relocated there.

In 2010, “City’s Best” selected the GiGi Salon as the best hair salon in New York City.  “I think what makes it good here is the team that we have,” says Kristijana.  “The second thing is that it’s really well organized.  And the third thing is the good management.”

For the first eight years in New York she worked non-stop without a vacation or leaving the country.  Finally last year she could go back to Croatia for a visit.  “It was very emotional.  I hadn’t seen my mother or father for all that time.  It was when we touched down in my city that I started crying.  It’s weird, but I felt insecure in my own country.  It was like I don’t belong here anymore.  It was so weird to hear no English, only my language.  I would catch myself saying ‘thank you’”.

Since then she has been back two more times.  “Now, when I’m here in New York I miss Croatia, and when I’m in Croatia I miss America.”  She says that in an ideal world, she would be able to spend six months of the year in each.

3 replies on “Kristijana Jakulj – Hair stylist”

Moving to Greece after working 4 years to Gigi’s salon it was very nice to work with Gigi and Gigi’s team but having a person like Kristjana is so special she is really a wonderful worker,a talented hairstylist and good friend love her:)

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