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Austin Curls Owner Jasmin Todd on Moving Her Salon Business to Central Texas

The hairstylist moved from L.A. in search of happiness. Now she's spreading it

Jasmin Todd came to Austin in pursuit of happiness. A Southern California girl at heart, she was happy in Los Angeles, raising her teenage son, Shawn, and running her own salon for clients including Erykah Badu, Jennifer Gray and Bridgid Coulter. But she was spending nearly four hours a day in traffic.

“I got this big house,” she says, “and I was never there.”

Her salon was slated to be demolished to make way for condos, which prompted a cross-country trip with her son to find a new place to call home. Daughter of a musician and a hippie mom who raised her around art and progressive culture, Todd immediately connected with Austin, particularly the lake-filled area west of the city center.

Jasmin Todd moved her salon from California to Austin last year.

There’s an element of the things I loved about California,” she says, “and then I realized that other Californians were here and felt the same way.”

Todd has been in the hairstyling business since she was in high school—“I was the kid playing with Barbie dolls long after everyone else because I liked the hair”—but as a Black woman, hair care is more than personal styling.

“We live in the beauty salon,” she says. “It’s a pillar of the community.”

I wanted peace and happiness more than anything else, and I feel so blessed to have found it.”

She graduated from beauty school before high school and mostly focused on Black hair. After she got a job at the Ouidad salon in Santa Monica, home of a trademark certification technique that focuses on curly hair, she branched out to all curls.

“In the curly community, everybody comes together,” says Todd. “It doesn’t matter what race you are. You can have tiny curls and looser curls. It all varies.”

Todd knew she could use her Ouidad certification anywhere in the country, so in May of last year, she opened Austin Curls on Bee Cave Road. A retiring stylist referred her clients to Todd’s salon, and her business took off. Even with the coronavirus, clients have continued to spread the word about her philosophy behind cutting curly hair.

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“Everyone’s curl is different, so nothing is cookie cutter about this,” she says. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. You can’t really go in there and will it to do what you want. You are surrendering to these curls.”

For many women who have straightened their hair for years, moving to a natural style requires more than someone who knows technique.

Three models exhibit Todd’s handiwork with a variety of curl styles.

“When you have someone of color who sits in your chair, they are scared,” she says. “They don’t know how to do it, and then you cut their curls and you style them. They cry when I’m finished. They go from hating their natural hair to loving it. That makes me want to cry.”

If clients are particularly nervous about a big chop, Todd will invite them into the salon for a consultation, no scissors involved. “You have to put them at ease,” she says. “There’s a lot of trust that goes into it. I’m getting into someone’s personal space.”

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Todd says that cutting and styling curly hair uses the creative energy she’s felt since she was a kid. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t really have a hobby because work is fulfilling to me in that way.”

Todd focuses on both technique and trust with her clients.

Todd closed her salon for about six weeks during the coronavirus pandemic, but she’s reopened with additional safety protocols in place. She and her two stylists stay busy, spacing out clients throughout the day. It makes for a longer workday, but Todd is thrilled she made the leap of faith to move her business and her life to Central Texas.

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“I really feel like people have opened up and supported me. People are so kind, plus I live in this 10-mile radius,” she says. “I wanted peace and happiness more than anything else, and I feel so blessed to have found it.”

In 2021, Todd plans to launch her own product line called All Things Body. The vegan, sulfate- and paraben-free line will include shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers and styling products—including a curl-specific gel.