Uptown Curl

Nothing can stop Kristy Wilson. When she got it into her mind to start her own hair salon, there was no doubt or hesitation. She and business partner, Rosie Jablonsky, were working as hair stylists at East 42nd Street Salon in Minneapolis, the only shop in town at the time which carried Deva Curl Products and specialized in working with curly hair. Kristy and Rosie had a vision for a different business model. They wanted to be in a different location and to have their business be more a part of the community. They wanted to have a salon that focused almost exclusively on curly heads, miraculously transforming out-of-control frizz into gorgeous tight curls or lush wavy locks. And that’s exactly what they do. The stylists at Uptown Curl have some mad skill sets which rival most hair stylists in the Twin Cities; they are indeed key architects in the “Curly Culture.” They received some great press back in November of 2014 in the Star Tribune.

Ah, let’s not get ahead of ourselves though; starting up your own salon takes a little bit of overhead; well, actually, a lot of overhead. Kristy and her partner put together their life savings and had just about enough money to secure a great location on Hennepin Avenue and to begin renovations to the shop. Their credit was good, they had a well thought-out, well-documented business plan with detailed spreadsheets and projections. So they went to a couple of the big banks downtown seeking a business loan, and were turned down.

Fortunately, a Wells Fargo loan officer contacted the African Development Center for them to see if ADC could find a loan for them. ADC helps everyone in the community who are trying to get businesses started. Within 5-7 weeks of their first contact with ADC, they received a loan large enough to get the stylist chairs, buy hair products, sinks, and the myriad of items it takes to set up a great salon. Kristy recalls, “They were so positive and we felt supported right away, they gave us guidance all through the process.” “They told us, ‘We’re going to get you your money…’” Having an excellent, well thought-out and organized business plan put them way ahead of the game. After filing their application for the loan, Kristy and Rosie participated in ADC’s Business Development Classes on a couple of Saturdays, which gave them some great information on small business ownership.

One of Kristy and Rosie’s values are to give back to the community. Keep a Child Alive and “Curly Girl” author Lorraine Massey hosted a cut-a-thon fundraiser and grand opening gala back in September. They have plans for more charitable events and fundraisers in the future. Keep a look-out on their site.

The shop is doing great! They started with 4 employees and are now up to 14. Future plans include the possibility of an additional location and to become an educational center for curly hair styling in the Midwest. Uptown Curl just celebrated their one-year anniversary on August 9, 2015. It was a great bash with an open bar, scrumptious eats and a jazz trio. There was a fashion show near the end and the evening cumulated into a dance party with live DJs. You’ve never seen so many lovely curly heads in one place at a time!

Kristy has some great words of advice to those thinking about starting their new businesses:

“Look for the mentors that are all around you; ask for advice and they will probably gladly share it with you”

“Be brave”

“Don’t compromise on your vision for success”