IF I hadn’t been to the optician’s to update my glasses, I would definitely have thought I had double vision when I met identical twin sisters Olga and Eliza Woldanska, who are both hairdressers in Midleton.
“When we get our photograph taken together, we often have to send it to one of our brothers, Dominick or Michael, afterwards,” says Eliza.
“I have to ask him ‘am I the one standing up or sitting down!’ They always know us. Sometimes even our mother mixes us up!”
You can definitely be floored by the remarkable likeness of the twin sisters, who are from Poland, and who work as hairdressers just three doors apart in the same estate, Broomfield, Midleton.
Nature and nurture dealt Olga and Eliza, 37, the same identical looks and the same identical hands. They are like two versions of the one person.
“We had great fun growing up, confusing our friends, our boyfriends and our teachers!” says Olga, who is Mum to Iga, aged eight, and Maja, aged six.
The girls enjoy double the grins and double the giggles when I try to tell them apart, which is an impossible feat.
Were they double the trouble?
“Our mother always dressed us in exactly the same clothes, so at school the teachers often mistook us for each other,” says Olga.
“After four years, they separated us, putting us into two different classrooms.”
The girls, like two peas in a pod, didn’t like being separated so they exacted revenge.
“Then we really set out to confuse the teachers! We had a bit of fun making people figure out who was who and we got up to a lot of mischief!”
They swapped boyfriends too.
“We did that twice with Peter and Robert,” says Eliza.
“But when Olga got serious with Peter, we had to tell him that he was often out on a date with both sisters! He got a shock.”
Olga is married to Marcin and they have two daughters. Eliza and Irek have one son Casper, aged three.
What would happen if either of the girls’ partners didn’t get on, especially when the sisters are so close?
“They would have to get on,” says Olga.
“We do everything together, work, socialise, shop, babysit for each other, spend birthdays and Christmas together. That’s just the way it is.”
It was always clear to Olga and Eliza, sharing the same dreams, that they would both be hairdressers.
“Ever since we were six years old, that was our dream,” says Olga.
“Our mother went to the same hairdresser always at home in Poland when we were growing up. We would go with her and the owner used to let us sort the hairsprays and shampoos on the shelf and she let us hand her the hair pins and clips while she was working.
“At home we spent hours doing our dolls’ hair and when our friends came to our house to play, we always plaited their hair for them. We loved trying out different hairstyles on each other too.”
Did they ever fight, like even the closest of sisters often do?
They look at each other with the same pained expression.
“Never!” they say in unison.
In their teens, Olga and Eliza both went to training school for hairdressers for three years before starting work in a huge salon in Poland.
“There were 13 sections in the salon,” says Olga.
“We worked closely together. And we got to travel to London and to Italy.”
Often, the clients who looked in the mirror thought they were seeing double.
“We both wore black clothes, maybe with a different jumper sometimes,” says Olga.
“My client looking in the mirror would say, I thought you had a different jumper on a minute ago! How did you just change it?”
The girls often changed clients.
“If Eliza was on holidays and her regular clients didn’t know that I often did their hair, they were never any the wiser,” says Olga.
“I knew exactly what they wanted. We work identically as hairdressers. We have the same hands and we work the same way. Our clients were always happy,” she adds.
Olga wasn’t happy when her twin came to live in Ireland in 2006 and left her behind. “We missed each other terribly,” she recalls.
“So when Eliza came to Ireland, I followed her to be near her. We couldn’t bear to be apart.”
The girls strived to learn English so they could practice their profession doing the work they both love.
“We both worked together in a hair salon here in Midleton,” says Eliza.
“When I told the owner I had a sister who was a hairdresser and who was coming to Midleton, she said, bring her in to work here straight away. It will be very good for the salon!
“We worked there together side by side for nine years. When we had babies, we knew we’d like to work from home to have more family time.”
They live three minutes from each other.
“We both work from home,” says Olga.
Are they in competition?
“No!” they both chorus.
“If one of us is booked out or can’t take a booking, we work together to accommodate the client. We share the customers. Then everyone is happy!”
The twins often experiment with their own hair colour and hair styles.
“If one of us decides to go dark instead of blonde, or vice versa, we both sit down together in front of the mirror and do it together,” says Eliza.
“I often thought if Olga changed her hair colour first, then I would know exactly what I would like so I could decide to change hair colour or not!”
As well as sharing the pride in their work, their happy family life and feeling their close bond every day, they often share each other’s pain too.
“When Olga was in labour with Iga I remember getting darts of pain in the middle of the night at home in Poland,” says Eliza.
“And I said, I don’t want any pain, especially when I don’t have any baby! The second time I told her, if I have pain, I’ll kill you!”
The girls giggle, echoing exactly the same sound of hilarity.
“And when Eliza cut her finger and she had to get stitches, I felt the pain too in a different finger,” says Olga.
They are often telepathic.
“Often, I am going to phone Olga, but then she rings me at exactly the same time,” says Eliza.
“We call each other four or five times every day.”
Olga and Eliza are the same size. Do they swap clothes?
“It’s funny, but after we had babies, we went back to the same size two weeks later,” says Eliza.
“Yes, we often swap clothes for special occasions like parties.”
Does that confuse their partners?
“Sometimes!” says Eliza.
“They say we smell the same too! We feel like the one person.”
Who is the elder?
“We were born by C-section,” says Eliza. “I am older by two minutes.”
The sisters are creative and they are artistic, both sporting colourful tattoos on their arms.
Are the tattoos the same?
They pull up their sleeves.
“Very alike, but a bit different,” says Eliza.
So now I can tell them apart?
“Try now,” says Eliza, swapping places with her sister. They switch back again. No chance.
Olga and Eliza are pulling up their sleeves again to go to work at Olga-HairStyling and Hair 4 U by Eliza.
“We are very close,” says Olga.
“We are each other’s very best friend.”