Who The Folk?! Rosie Jablonsky

Rosie Jablonsky took a rather winding road to open her salon Curl Power, but with a passion for storytelling, talking to people and being creative, a curly head of hair has proven to be a perfect palate for the Washington native. Curl Power is set for its “hard open” on June 18, Jablonsky is already planning an expansion into the space next door and will be writing the Hairipist column for TC Jewfolk. So, just Who The Folk is Rosie Jablonsky?

How many puns are there for names of salons involving ‘curl?’

So Curl Power. I used to own Uptown Curl. I just saw on the internet Southern Curl. I think salons in general, the punnier the better. It’s kind of like drag queen names. If you can get a pun in there you’re golden. Curl up and Dye is in every city. There are probably thousands of them.

There was no Curl Power in town?

There was no Curl Power anywhere, as far as I could find. There are aren’t that many curly-focused salons. Yet.

What is the mystery of curly hair?

The thing is, it’s not really that hard. It’s just that the entire beauty industry has organically, or not, grown in the service of changing people’s hair. Most have curly hair, but if I can increase people’s insecurities about themselves that they can spend money changing what they are, then I’m going to have a successful business. The entire beauty industry is about containing and altering what people naturally have, which is curly hair. The education isn’t even there for beauty schools to work with the natural fabric of people’s hair.

Did you teach yourself how to do this?

I think a lot of curly stylists start teaching themselves, because they identify the fact that there’s something they don’t know. This was my story: There’s something I don’t know, I have this vision of what beautiful curls should and I think can look like but I don’t know how to do it, and I’m going to try different stuff. But beauty school is into ‘This is the right way, this is the wrong way.’ You do it this way, you stretch out the hair and wet it down. You treat it like’s it a geometric piece of construction material rather than letting it bounce and spring and live the natural shape like it is on someone’s head.

I discovered that there were a few salons that knew how to do this, I got a little education and then went to New York to the Deva Curl Academy to start my training with them. I’ve grown with them as they’ve increased their training. It’s all about leaving the curl in its natural state and shape.

Rosie Jablonsky (right) with her dad, Eugene, and grandma, Atarah, at a recent visit to Curl Power.

Rosie Jablonsky (right) with her dad, Eugene, and grandma, Atarah, at a recent visit to Curl Power.

Jewish women mostly have curly hair. How has the education process been for your clientele about why they can have curly hair and maintain it?

It’s huge. It depends somewhat generationally: People who’ve been fighting their hair for longer are more attached to the idea that they need to suppress their curliness or their Jewishness. I think younger women, and maybe this is a gross generalization, but I think there is less trying to suppress and homogenize. I think there can be more support for looking like you look. It’s all about education and how to do so you can be professional and confident. Most stylists don’t know this exists or is possible.

How did you come to being a hair stylist?

I started out doing documentary filmmaking. I love telling stories and talking to people and learning new things and travelling. I went to film school and live in New Mexico and I found that the business of filmmaking, I didn’t like. I was doing a lot of performance at that time. I was working with a circus and puppetry group in New Mexico. I loved it. It was community and working with people and body positivity and loving who you are and learning how to work with what you’ve got. I started teaching circus to adult women. All through that I was doing people’s hair on the side. So I came to this weird moment where I was like ‘I really love these parts of these jobs.’ But I wanted something that feels stable and flexible at the same time, I want to be able to work with my hands and talk to people. Instant gratification was on my list. I want to love what do. I thought hair was the intersection off all it. It was the only thing I could think of, so I went to beauty school. I still thought there was something not quite right with this, this industry is trying to tell me how to tell women what they should think of themselves. That’s when I found curly hair.

As I’ve learned, curls come in all shapes and sizes.

That’s what I’m really trying with this space is make really clear we’re working with the whole spectrum: tightest tightest to loosest waviest. We’ll do straight hair. We don’t discriminate towards straight people.

What does this space offer?

I wanted a space that I could craft and feel really relaxed and comfortable, and creative and community-oriented. I want the space to feel like a place you could hang out in even if you weren’t getting your hair done. I don’t want people to feel rushed or like they’re getting factoried along. I want people to feel like they can hang out and chat and be whoever they are. I want it to be very welcoming to the whole LGBTQ community. We aren’t going to make you feel gendered in any way. I don’t care what you’ve got below here (pointing to her neck).

What is about this neighborhood that’s appealing to you?

I think the fact that it’s an intersection, literally. But Uptown is (one way), Eat Street (another way), Loring Park is right here, Stevens Square. This is the corner of a lot of different neighborhoods. It’s close enough to the freeway so our out-of-towners can get here reasonably well. I like that it’s a really diverse area. I like to be visible. I like to be able to bike to work.

What’s the most challenging part of setting up a new shop?

Administrative (responsibilities) versus people and art and hair. I want to be doing this all the time, but I don’t really want to be spending my time setting up systems. I just want to hang out with people and do their hair and tell stories.

Storytelling is connected to Jewishness, at least in my growing-up experience. The stories that I get from people? I wish I could make documentaries and write things.

There’s a therapist element to what you do.

Total hairapist. Or psycurlogist.

But the documentarian part of your past, that’s a big intersection of where this comes together.

And I love it. And I love the therapist part of it. That’s where the heart of it really is.

Favorite Jewish holiday?

Pesach. A close second is Purim. So great also. But Pesach, because you can make it as radical and choose-your-own-adventure is you want. That’s kind of my motto for life.

Favorite Jewish food?

Do pickles count? They just feel very Jewish. I have this whole gluten problem and I can’t eat matzah balls anymore. Maybe latkes. Or brisket.

The grand opening of Curl Power will be an open house and client art show on June 25 from 2-8 p.m.

Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!