Master doll fixer finally finds his apprentice
By Amy Remeikis
Jan. 13, 2013,
The Brisbane Doll and Teddy Hospital has been restoring treasured companions and playmates since the early 1940s.
George Georgiou, 65, has been running the business since 1977.
He is among the best at what he does, but as age has begun to wear on his own joints and other moving parts, the doll doctor has had to consider the future - his own, and that of his loyal clients.
Enter Laki Augustakis.
The 49-year-old had known Mr Georgiou for years, first through soccer and neighbourhood activities and then through his frequent visits to the iconic South Brisbane store delivering food.
“A friend of mine passed away and all my customers were worried about what was going to happen if I wasn’t here to look after their dolls,” Mr Georgiou said.
“And Laki used to deliver stuff to me every week and he was fascinated in what I did.
"He looked interested so I showed him a few things, just a couple of minutes a day when he would deliver and he seemed quite taken with it - and the rest is history.”
Mr Augustakis tells it a little differently.
“One day he said he was ‘busy, busy, busy’ and could I help him, because I had a background in construction. I didn’t know what I could do, but I said yes and one day led to another day to another day and here we are,” he said.
“My friends are stirring me up now asking me how my dolls are today. It’s not a career I would have thought of, but life throws these things at you and you should grab them with both hands. There is never a dull moment here.
"You’re always doing something different. The best thing is when you hand the doll back and you someone’s eyes light up.
"You hear a story about a doll and how much it means to a person and when they get it back, the thing that they love is back with them. It’s always a happy moment.”
If there were further proof needed that Mr Augustakis had fallen into the job he’d been waiting for, he’s never found a doll even remotely creepy.... except for maybe the lifelike newborn dolls.
“There are so many dolls heads and parts around that you start to get a bit blasé about the creepiness of it...but if they ever talk to me, it’s time to go,” he laughed.
Mr Georgiou said finding the right person to teach the craft was difficult – it wasn’t just about skills, he was looking for a certain attitude, a special spark - the same passion he himself feels for the job.
And as much as the pair enjoys stirring each other up and poking fun, theirs is a relationship of mutual respect, Mr Georgiou said.
Although, Mr Augustakis shouldn’t expect to find himself alone in the store anytime soon.
“He has a long way to go before he takes over,” Mr Georgiou said.
“A long, long way to go.”
However, it seems the master has finally found his apprentice.