CLIFTON, N.J. — For many people in distress, Aneta Vogelgesang of Clifton's business is the only answer.
They come in by the dozen nearly every day, embarrassed by the thick strands sprouting from their foreheads, breasts, cheeks or backs. They can't wax it, pluck it, or laser it off, because they've found those methods ineffective and often exacerbating.
But Vogelgesang, who opened Beyond Skin Care & Electrolysis in Wallington last April, changes that for them -- for good.
In doing so, the single mom from Poland changed her own life, and those of her kids as well.
Vogelgesang moved to the U.S. from Poland in 2004 when her first child, Matthew, was 6. She was 28.
She had just finished cosmetology school in her country and the economy was awful.
"I had no choice but to come here," said Vogelgesang of Clifton. "In Poland, I couldn't offer him anything. If I didn't do anything, his life would never be good."
Then in her early 20s, Vogelgesang packed her bags and bought a one-way ticket to the U.S. She didn't know any English, and only had one family friend to help her out.
She landed her first job in Cape Cod, working as a bus boy in hotels and restaurants. But in the winter, after the vacationers had gone home, she lost those jobs and picked up work as a gas attendant.
It wasn't looking like a long-term gig.
"I didn't care that it was cold or that I was a woman," she said. "I'm Polish -- I'm strong. I could do this."
Vogelgesang started her day opening the station at 5:45 a.m., and closing at 8 p.m.
But she could do better. So Vogelgesang called a friend in New York City that December, hoping he could help her move forward.
"There was no future there for me," he said.
She took a bus to New York City and began looking for jobs online, with her laptop. Her English was barely there.
After a few weeks, she found a gig as a live-in babysitter in Pleasantville, N.Y.
"When I got there, I knew it was my place," Vogelgesang said.
The kids were 5 and 9, and the parents treated her like family. She worked making pierogis at a polish deli on the side, and was enjoying her life in the U.S. That year, she met the man who would become her husband on an online dating site.
The pair got married in 2007 and she quit her nannying gig to move in with him in Queens, N.Y.
Things took an abrupt turn for the worst when her son, Matthew, joined them from Poland the following year.
"I didn’t like how my husband was treating him," Vogelgesang said.
"He was so mean, treating him like a slave. I couldn't watch that."
She thought maybe, if they had a baby together, he'd soften up.
And so, in 2008, the pair moved to New Jersey and welcomed baby Julia. Still, nothing changed with Matthew.
Vogelgesang knew it wasn't going to work between the two. She knew she had to do something.
With her husband's money, Vogelgesang went back to school to get her cosmetology license. She took care of the house, the kids and studied on the side.
"I thought, 'One day, I''m going to be ready to kick him out,'" she said.
And then one day, it happened.
In 2015, Vogelgesang divorced her husband and found work in a New Jersey medi-spa.
She noticed that her boss was backed up all day with electrolysis appointments, but she was only giving facials. It wasn't enough.
Seeing her boss' success, Vogelgesang went back to electrolysis school and prepared -- once again -- to face the world on her own.
It wasn't long before she found space to rent in a doctor's office in Wallington doing electrolysis, but soon discovered she needed more space.
In February 2017, Vogelgesang found her Wallington Avenue facility and opened Beyond Skin Care & Electrolysis in April.
Business has been booming.
"The hair situation for women is very embarrassing," Vogelgesang said. "It could be genetic, from their medication, stress or hormone changes. There’s no way for them to remove it at home without making the situation worse."
Vogelgesang explained that by plucking or waxing the hair, more blood is circulated to the area, causing it to grow in thicker.
She spends many hours a month with her clients in close quarters, talking about each other's lives as she works on their bodies. Many have become close friends with her.
"I like to see that they’re happy," she said.
The business has been integral in providing a better life for her children, too. Matthew, now 18, graduated from college and is working in HVAC.
More importantly, Vogelgesang sees he is truly happy for the first time in a very long time.
Her daughter, Julia, is on the honor roll at a private school in Clifton, and is passionate about playing piano and gymnastics.
Vogelgesang feels that America has become home and has an important message for other single moms.
"Women, when we give birth, this makes us strong," she said.
"So be strong and don't be afraid. Don't have self-pity. You have to make yourself happy.
"If you have to kick someone out, do it. If you need to go to school, do it. You will always find the money to make yourself happy.
"Because nobody else can make you happy --- only you."
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