Posted by Mimi Gyergyak on


Edition - 24 March 2017


From the privation of post-war Europe to settling in a strange, hot country as a young wife, Mimi Gyergyak has met life head-on, and, writes DOT WHITTINGTON, the successful businesswoman can’t imagine doing anything any differently now.

When Mimi Gyergyak was born in a small village on the Danube River on the outskirts of Budapest in Hungary, World War II was still fresh in everyone’s mind and her country was a satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Times were tough; doing without was the order of the day but as always, necessity is the mother of invention. The teenaged Mimi, like most adolescents, found herself waging a war with pimples and if she was going to do something about it, then she had to come up with something herself. She did. Using various herbs and flowers provided by nature – this was hardly something to concern mankind in such times – she brewed up her own potion to deal with the problem. “It was a very primitive time,” she says. “I had no choice when I had pimples as a teenager. I had to make my own as there was nothing to buy. I had a little electric burner which I used to make my first products.” And thus began what was to become a lifetime passion and the foundation of a successful skincare empire. Mimi is careful to emphasise she isn’t in the beauty business – no makeup, eyebrow tints or waxing – she is a dermatherapist concerned only with helping women make the most of what they have been given. Her story moves from Hungary – also the home of skincare giants Estee Lauder and Ella Bache – to studying dermatology in Switzerland, to married life in England, emigration to Brisbane four decades ago and the birth of her son, and honing her craft in Queensland. In 1986, she established her own clinic at Wickham Terrace and has been in the same rooms ever since – “I have been right here, on this same spot for 30 years” – and can boast that she has treated three generations of the same family. But for this sprightly 68-year-old grandmother, that’s only part of the story. “When I arrived here, I thought ‘wow, there is no beauty clinic and yet it is such a damaging climate’. By the 1970s, it was common in Europe to find a beauty salon in most villages,” she says. “I felt homesick. I couldn’t get a facial or an espresso.” So, armed with the knowledge of manufacturing products for skincare that she had been building since her adolescence in Hungary, she decided it was time to educate Australian women to look after their skin. On the bright side, the hot climate also produced the perfect ingredient for her to work with – aloe vera, which she found a perfect vehicle for carrying nutrients deep into the skin. “I had no choice but to manufacture products as there was nothing on the market to improve a client’s skin,” she says. “First I made my own and then I started supplying others and the rest is history.”

After obtaining a licence from the TGA, Bio-Pacific skincare was born. “I changed my formula based on results and client feedback. I was not in a laboratory but working with real people. The main thing I used was my common sense,” she says. “I shared it with other beauty therapists, went to trade shows and then started marketing it overseas.” Since 1994, her Bio-Pacific range of skincare products has been marketed in the Middle East, UK, US, New Zealand and Korea, although she concedes she has given up the travel and prefers to take it easy on herself staying at work at home. Mimi now has a range of eight products and says she is so close perfection, “it’s dangerously good”. Her main aim has always been to work with nature, not against it. “Juice of the aloe vera is the best base for a product and it is grown here in Queensland,” she says. “We also have to go with nature. We all have to age but we can do it gracefully. “At 68, I would look stupid with the skin of a 21-year-old, but I can still have good skin and look good for my age.” As well as her manufacturing business, Mimi still runs her Wickham Terrace clinic where she continues to provide consultations on everything to do with the dermis. “What we see is not always the same as the clients may see as a problem when they arrive,” she says. “Pigmentation is a big issue as we age, but they might worry more about wrinkles and broken capillaries which appear because the skin is thinning.” She also points out there is no quick fix when you are working with the largest organ in the body. “It’s like going to the gym. You don’t see a muscle after one session,” she says. “You have to keep it up if you want lasting results.” Mimi is full of good advice and says age has given her patience. “I like to talk about the skin. I’m never in a rush,” she says. “I’m rewarded by seeing what a difference I can make and seeing what people can achieve.” But although she doesn’t rush, she hasn’t slowed down either. “I wear many hats and I’m always working on something,” she says. “I like to spend a day in the factory, some time in dispatch at the warehouse, I have some former students who have now opened up their own business and I like to support them and I like to see my clients. I have known some of them for 30 years now. “I can’t see myself not doing what I am doing. I’m happiest when I’m busy.” And her final word of advice: “Don’t stop seeing the beauty in a mature face. You don’t want to look like an overfilled sausage. The look of beauty is to enhance what you have and work with it.”   

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