Sixty-eight-year-old Kensington salon faces heartbreaking closure

Sixty-eight-year-old Kensington salon faces heartbreaking closure
Kaylah Joelle Baker

Long-standing Kensington salon Jissara Hair has been forced to make the tough decision to once again close its doors due to the pandemic’s lasting impact.

Established in 1954 by Ray Jissara and taken over by son John Jissara and his wife Kelly in 1998, the salon has not only been a special part of the local community but also the family’s lives.

“It’s not just a business in any area. I grew up in Kensington and went to school in the area and the area means so much to me,” John Jissara told North West City News.

“Everyone knew us, and we knew everyone, it was like one big happy family.”


Not wanting to sell up, but also not knowing when and if the doors will open again, Mr Jissara said the lack of staff in the industry at this time had proven too difficult to navigate while open.


“There are no hairdressers coming into Australia on working visas currently and the hairdressers here have left the industry or started their own mobile businesses after COVID made them rethink what they want to do,” Mr Jissara said.

“The whole industry has been affected and we have tried to look for hairdressers but have now stopped.”

As a common follower of hairdressing Facebook forums, Mrs Jissara said one hairdressing forum of 9000 members had “over 200 posts from Australian businesses looking for hairdressers” within a few days.

The desperation of the job advertisements has only continued to prove a struggle within the industry at this time, and Jissara is battling the complicated dilemma of finding long-term committed staff and having the clientele and hours to support the staff.

Mr Jissara said the past five-kilometre radius restrictions kept many of their loyal customers away and played a big part in some of their customers seeking more convenient locations to this day.

“A lot of our clientele used to live in Kensington but don’t anymore, so when the government put the five-kilometre restrictions in place people couldn’t come and see us and started going elsewhere, even though they came here all their lives,” Mr Jissara said.

“The government grants were also helping us, and our staff keep afloat before, but now that has gone away and small businesses are strictly relying on people coming in now more than before.”

Believing the downfall for their business was people not realising that established businesses were also at threat of closing, the couple is hoping that speaking up about their experience will motivate the community to support small businesses that little bit more.

Especially now after Jissara’s Hair was recognised for the recent Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards – an award that recognises the small businesses that make up the City of Melbourne – despite already being closed when announced.

“It’s not always as it seems and every local business needs people in the area to support them,” Mr Jissara said.

“Even if it costs them 50 cents or a dollar more, they need to look at the bigger picture of if they want the business to be there for them in the future otherwise every second door is going to close.”

Jissara is not the only long standing hairdressing salon in Kensington to recently close, with Twiggy’s men’s hair salon also permanently closing during the past 12 months.

The struggle has for now left Mr and Mrs Jissara unsure of what more can be done to save their beloved shop, so they are instead turning their attention to their new hairdressing supply store business Everything Hair and Beauty.

Located in Keilor Park and active on social media under the business’s name, they sell hair, beauty and salon supplies to hairdressing salons and also open their showroom doors to the public.

While excited about where this business will take them, the couple told North West City News that they wanted to let all their old customers, all of whom they know on a first-name basis, that they miss them and are always thinking of them.

“We would love to see all of the old faces again,” Mrs Jissara said.

“We still go to the store to clean up, and our youngest son had a tear in his eye because they grew up there. The salon is a huge part of our lives, and it is heartbreaking for us.”

“But we need people to understand that it is still really hard times and shopping strips like this one in Kensington are still really affected.” •


Captions: John and Kelly Jissara.

Photo: Murray Enders.

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