We had the good fortune of connecting with Jasmine Kokoszka and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jasmine, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Under the broad umbrella of the beauty industry are so many positives: joyful self expression, having agency over one’s own appearance, and even a cathartic feeling from being physically cared for! On the flip side, the issues that exist in any other part of life seep through. The beauty industry is also one that induces and exploits self-hatred for profit. The most important part of my brand is diverging completely from that mindset! I believe these days we all have more tools to relate to self-adornment and styling in a healthy way – and I thank those who created the Body Positivity movement for laying that groundwork. The principles that got us there declare all bodies worthy of safety from discrimination based on race, ability, body size and shape, gender, or sexuality. Sounds simple enough, but it’s something that requires us really re-wiring some of our beliefs and changing the way we talk about others’ bodies and our own, health and wellness, and privilege. When we believe & show with our actions that there is no wrong way to have a body, we not only stop contributing to a harmful system, but begin to free ourselves from our personal negative thoughts and limitations. Getting to connect with like-minded folks and approach hair service as a creative collaboration feels like the absolute greatest success.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
There are so many technical aspects of hairdressing, but I would say I’m most proud of communicating with my guests compassionately and effectively. I love the intersection of personal service, art, geometry, and color theory that is hairdressing, but I attribute a great deal of my successes to making folks feel seen and heard with no judgement. We created this space to be not just accepting, but celebratory of all. One of the things that‘s held me back the most in my career has been a fear of being seen or talking about myself, stemming from experiencing Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It’s made it difficult to promote myself and my business, but as I contend with it I believe it‘s also given me a unique perspective on the complicated relationships we have with our appearance, especially when trusting another person to make a change to it.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Some of my favorite places in Austin are Austin Film Society cinema and I Luv Video. I’ve discovered so many cool films at both, and seen some stuff on the big screen I never imagined I’d get to! We also have some great vintage and antique stores I love to show off, from Room Service to the big antique mall on McCann. I always end up bringing folks to Possum Park- you can hit up any one of several vegan food trucks like Sundaze or Wasota, grab baked goods at Zucchini Kill, and go to the adjoining apothecary and boutique Yarrow + Sage.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The other founder of Symbolica, Gina Ruggirello (they/them), was so vital in encouraging me to venture into sole proprietorship . There’s a lot to attend to and to be nervous about when leaving the support system of a larger, established salon, but they helped me take stock of what I was already doing successfully, as well as my potential to help cultivate a space like the one we now share. Having a lil’ queer owned + operated studio is kind of a dream. I also must thank the stylists I’ve worked alongside over the years, for each nugget of advice and every ounce of encouragement!

Website: www.symbolicasalon.com
Instagram: Symbolicasalon
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/symbolicasalon

Image Credits
Alex Kacha

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.