Tuesday, 4 July 2017

#TroveTuesday - Kit Gadsby Leading Lismore Hairdresser

My mum was always fond of her Auntie Kit   I remember her a little as a bit fashionable and “out there”.  Well, the Gadsby girls did pass the 6 weeks of their passage to Australia in 1912  reading the latest edition of the Girls Own Annual with its Edwardian fashion sketches and tips.

She earned her living in dressmaking, hairdressing and hospitality.

After a stint at dressmaking she learnt the trade of hairdressing from her little sister Eadie. For a while they were in business together until Eadie and her husband Harry moved away. Eadie and Jack Jacob returned to the business in 1947. 

One of the many ads in the Northern Star
Gadsby’s  was established in 1934, Kit went from strength to strength showing her business acumen and opening a string of salons  in Lismore, Kyogle, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Ballina, Grafton and Casino. Later she had sister Maud offering “Chiropodist” services from the shop in Magellan St Lismore. In 1936 she married divorcee Victor Waters and he managed the multiple businesses which had the motto “Old customers we keep, new ones always stay.”

She received patronage from “discriminating matrons and misses of Lismore and surrounding districts “with her offerings of All Electric Permanent Waves, Electric combination, Non Electric and Oil waves.

Other beautifications included shampooing, resetting, Henna and Chamomile rinses, Bleaching, Eyebrow arching, Scalp Treatment, tinting, dyeing and facials.

Later the “Leading Hairdresser on the North Coast “ opened a College of Hairdressing above the Lismore store “offering a written guarantee of proficiency” to students.

Sadly her husband and business partner died in a car crash while returning from a business trip.  She remarried on the rebound to a much younger Phil Barrett but the marriage was short lived.  He got the salon in Lismore as part of the settlement and it was renamed Barrett’s of Lismore. 

Kit attempted to get some other relatives to take over the chain after the war. Later she returned to Sydney where she tried her hand at running  a reception house called Abbotsford at Cremorne choosing Abbotsford because she’d be first in the telephone book .  Before opening she learnt the trade by working in a competitor’s reception centre in Chatswood.  In learning how the industry worked she also saw how staff could steal and cheat the business. In the end, when she opened her business she stole the staff from Chatswood. 

Eventually her brother William partnered with her especially when she became ill. Often it was all hands on deck from her many relatives when staff were required for functions. Even my mum’s wedding photo was used for promoting the Wedding Photographer. 

Kit was known in the family to be a committed communist like her brother Jack who had been ill on and off since doing his duty in the Great  War. 

Mmm....a committed communist capitalist known to make the most out of her workers.
Kit and her brother Jack - committed comunists!


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