“When she came to me with the story of her illness and asked me for help... "
Photos by Megan Monday
Josif and Joda | Appleton, WI
Josif: My dad was basically a serial entrepreneur. He was a barber, but also a baker, a restaurateur…my parents were German immigrants and they got to be very well-known German restaurateurs. Also, we moved every three years because he flipped houses. It’s crazy; he did a lot of things. But I grew up watching my dad cut hair, and was very deeply rooted in the salon business. 16 years ago I built a 10,000 square foot salon and spa. When my dad built a business, people would come for miles. My wife now says to me, "Oh my god, you're so much like your dad."
Josif: I was in Chicago competing at what I would call a ‘Hair American Idol.’ There were 1,500 hairdressers that auditioned in all the big cities. I really didn't think I was going to get it; I was up against some big names. Then one day, a Fed-Ex truck showed up at my house, and I'm thinking, "Oh my God, I'm going to jail." Back then, a Fed-Ex pulling up at your house meant you were getting a subpoena of some sort. But the package was from Redken. It said, "Congratulations, you're one of 30. We're going to fly you to California. Pack your bag." After that, all the opportunities started rolling in. I worked with Janet Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston. It changed my life. In fact, I had two lives: I would leave on a plane to work in big cities around the country. Then I would come back here, back home.
Joda: I was born and raised here in Appleton. I have worked in the hospitality business for over 20 years. I really love the Midwest hospitality here, taking care of people, and making connections. This community is very intertwined, there are lots of nonprofits and businesses that help each other out. There’s a kind of synergy with the restaurants, too. We'll say, "Oh, if you like it here, you should try this other place out tomorrow." So it’s not competition, it's more of a community. We're all in it together; we want the local businesses to all do well.
Joda: I felt a BB-sized lump in my breast. I had an ultrasound and nothing showed up. My father had passed away two months prior to cancer, and I couldn't shake this feeling that there was something there. So I convinced a doctor to do a needle biopsy, which wasn’t even covered by my insurance. As it turns out, it was cancer. I was 29. Certainly my thoughts went to my health first, but also I thought about how treatment would change the way I looked. Being in the public eye through my work, I didn't want to have to explain my personal story or get a sympathetic eye. I just wanted to try and maintain as normal of a life as possible.
Josif: Joda has been a friend of mine forever; she’s like my sister. When she came to me with the story of her illness and asked me for help...nothing was more challenging and difficult than sitting there with her family in that room to take her hair off. Her hair is like her third arm. It's how she's known. But she said to me, "I don't want anyone to know that I'm sick. I need you to replicate my hair." And I knew I could do it, 100 percent. I used human hair, I created the length, the style, the shape, the feeling. It was beautiful, and no one knew.
Joda: Our goal is to help individuals experiencing hair-loss live their everyday lives without unnecessary anxiety due to their appearance. Going to the grocery store, attending their child’s recital, or celebrating a loved one’s special event are rarely times when one wishes to be asked about their illness. I am very blessed with the opportunity to inspire women to not give up. If I can accomplish that on any level, big or small, I have succeeded.
Josif: I worked on the Backstreet Boys tour. One night my friend and I snuck into the clothing room and put on their outfits and pretended we opened the show. I have pictures; oh I would have died to keep that outfit. It was all Versace.
-Josif and Joda | Appleton, WI