By Dyke Hendrickson
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Millie Yianni came from the Philippines almost two long decades ago but her decision to make the journey was made in a rush.
Her photo had appeared in a publication read by men looking for wives. When she responded to a gentleman from Haverhill, he got on a plane for a face-to-face “date.”
Once he arrived, the pair got married after three days, she said.
“My friends sent the photo to the magazine,” said Millie Yianni, who owns the Yianni’s Family Salon at 344 High St. here. “But I answered one of the letters after I saw his picture, and when he got here, it was love at first sight.
“After three days we got married, and with him I wanted to come to America. Of course, the first winter here I could hardly keep warm but I have learned how to deal with the weather.”
Her husband, John Yianni, was born in Greece. But despite cultural differences, they have melded their backgrounds into a family with two children and two careers.
Millie had to return to school get a certificate that permits her to cut hair and run a salon. She worked At Casual Cuts here for close to eight years, When that closed about a year ago, she opened her own shop.
“I had to learn a trade, and I chose cutting hair because I think I am really good at it,” said Millie.“I had regular customers, and many of them have followed me to this shop.
“This is my dream – a place of my own where I can work with nice people.”
Millie, 41, said that she wouldn’t have had similar opportunities had she stayed in the Philippines. Her father was in the Philippines military, and her mother was a homemaker.
Though her grandparents ran a trucking company, she indicated that such a career was not appealing.
John Yianni, 51, is a truck driver, and is often gone throughout the week. Their children are 14 and 3, and she is responding to a range of challenges.
“I consider myself ambitious, and I definitely am pushing myself now that I have my own shop,” she said. “We are making a future for the children, and I have to do my part to make my shop a success.
“I am happy here; this country has offered opportunity that I would not have in the Philippines. Now that I am here I am working to develop my business and build a strong family.”