Annabel Czyba from Swindon (68) has suffered from breast cancer, leukemia and had her dreams of being a ballet dancer shattered, but today she spends much of her time as a House of Colour stylist helping others to gain confidence.
“I had always wanted to be a dancer and I was talented. My dancing teacher tried to persuade my parents to send me to ballet school without success; proper schooling required! The school I was sent to at 12 suddenly stopped having ballet as an extra-curricular activity, so I spent four years without ballet and I was miserable. I left school at 16 after taking my O levels to be a full-time ballet student in order to go to The London College of Dance and Drama to train to be a dancing teacher as I didn’t think I would ever be able to dance on the stage, but that all changed after two years as my teachers persuaded me to work towards doing musicals. Sadly and stupidly I was late for a jazz class one morning and without warming up properly I stretched a leg on the barre and badly injured myself. The result was life changing (I still feel the effects of it today at times), so I was never to realise my life’s dream”.
“My boyfriend’s sister took me under her wing and taught me how to walk the catwalk and from 1972, I modelled in fashion shows for Katherine Hamnett, Jeff Banks, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and many more, as well as doing photographic work and commercials.”
Thinking of doing something new for herself and bearing in mind her love of and background in fashion, in 2000 Annabel became a House of Colour stylist. “I came to know House of Colour when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen for a couple of years who had completely transformed herself with a House of Colour stylist and had gone from being perhaps a little frumpy wearing the wrong summer colours to a vibrant autumn. I had worn mostly winter colours all my life (my mother was a winter) but I started wearing autumn colours in my 40’s when I started going grey and wasn’t financially or emotionally confident. When I was shown my winter colours it was like “coming home!”
Annabel loved being a new stylist but two years later she found she had breast cancer. “It was found early thankfully so I had a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy in 2002. I then found I had leukaemia in 2009 and needed a bone marrow transplant (whilst getting divorced at the same time!) and didn’t work for nearly a year”.
“Like many of my clients I have been through a lot. I see lack of confidence and loss of way in so many of the wonderful people I meet. For example, mums often focus totally on the children and place little emphasis or importance on themselves. I love watching, and being part of, the transforming life-changing effects on clients when they realise the colours, style and make up they should wear, and seeing them flourish and become more confident and look so much healthier and better for it!”