Beauty often blooms its brightest out of adversity, and there are few stories where that is more true than the story of Nina Insana, a beauty school owner from Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania who passed away last week.
Mrs. Insana was born in 1928 in the Italian province of Sicily. At the time, Italy was still recovering from its role in the first World War, and fell under the sway of the fascist dictator and member of the Axis powers in World War II Benito Mussolini. Some of Insana’s earliest memories were of pledging allegiance to a portrait of one of history’s greatest villains.
Mrs. Insana grew up used to blackouts, bombing runs, and food rations on a regular basis. She had little contact with the outside world under Mussolini’s strict rule. Even after he fell from power, the people of Italy still struggled to recover and rebuild their country.
Many people would find their spirits crushed by this experience, but not Nina Insana. In 1957, she met and married Franco Insana, a native of her Sicilian town who was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She spoke little to no English and had never been to America, but still picked up her entire life and made her way to the U.S.
Mr. Insana, a barber and cobbler, started a beauty school that at its height would grow to have 4 different locations in Pennsylvania. However, he would not live to see that height passing away in 1974 in his 17th year of marriage to Mrs. Insana.
Nina Insana, who had previously kept the schools books, stepped up after the loss of her husband and led the school into its period of greatest success.
“She felt that was her duty as an immigrant to the United States even though eventually her relatives told her they really did not really need the money.” said her daughter Lina Insana.
For Mrs. Insana, the beauty school was an expression of the freedom and prosperity she experienced after leaving post war Italy. Student’s pursuing a career in beauty would do well to take Mrs. Insana’s passion for her work to heart.