I Love My Job: American Girl Doll Hair Stylist

There are almost 700,000 hairstylists in the United States. Uncounted in those ranks are the very specialized hair stylists who style the hair of some unique customers that will never complain about their cuts or styles -- because their chairs host dolls. It's a dream job for Luisa Rodriguez, doll hair stylist at the American Girl store in New York City.

Not just dolls

If you know a girl between the ages of 6 and 12, there's a good chance she's begged for an American Girl doll.

American Girl is a Wisconsin-based brand of dolls, books, clothing and accessories. A distinguishing factor of these dolls is that many have historical ties. Addy, for example, is a doll who escaped slavery via the underground railroad. The brand also encourages girls to empower themselves through their dolls.

Nine U.S. cities feature stores that are more than just toy stores: They are experiences, allowing girls to have high tea with their dolls table-side, see Broadway-quality shows, and get their dolls' hair done.

A dream job

"I meet girls from all over the world, from Paris to Wisconsin," says Rodriguez, 20. "Who [else] can say they spend their entire workday playing with dolls?"

Rodriguez is a full-time college student, studying political science with hopes to attend law school. What started as a seasonal job for her in 2010 is now a three day per-week welcome break from her studies.

While stylists for people must pass a state licensing exam after hours of preparation, Rodriguez only had two days to master the dolls' hair texture and styles.

But her continuing education never ends, as she makes it her responsibility to keep up with the latest kid culture. She watches kids' TV to keep up with the latest programs and characters so she can relate to her clients.


Like every job, being a doll hair stylist has its challenges. Little girls can be tough on their dolls, rendering the doll's hair unmanageable. Try telling a little girl that her doll needs a head replacement.

The store can get very busy on weekends and the salon does not take appointments. Girls can wait on line for up to two hours to get their dolls' hair styled. Rodriguez styles as many as 25 dolls each day.

"You want to live up to the standards of the company," says Rodriguez. "We don't want to get too overwhelmed, but at the same time we don't want rush the experience for each girl."

Surprisingly, many girls and parents don't complain or demand a "re-do." OK, sometimes mothers do.

"It's only the parents, but they're concerned with getting their money's worth," says Rodriguez. "Some of them look at the doll like another child."

The pay-off

A trip to an American Girl store is often a special occasion for a girl. Dolls cost around $100, tea in the restaurant runs $20 per person, and time in the doll hair salon costs about another $20. A new dress for a doll costs about $30. The store carries dresses both in doll sizes and sizes for little girls. The same dress for a little girl cost double what the doll version does. But American Girl isn't just selling stuff; it's selling an experience. Those experiences are memorable for the little girls as well as for store employees.

Rodriguez sums up how much she loves her job with a story:

"A month into working, I was beginning to enjoy my job. A girl [came in who] was about 7. This was her first American Girl doll, and her first trip to New York City. She and her mom were trying to come up with a name for the doll. It had to symbolize New York. I said, 'How about Madison?'"

Rodriguez styled the doll's hair. The mother stepped away, then turned back and said ... "By the way, she told me she was going to name her doll 'Luisa.'"

"I gave her a good time, and she named her doll after me," says Rodriguez. "Sometimes you have an impact on these girls and you don't even realize it."

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yup I totally agree with EVERYTHING akts02kpm says

March 22 2011 at 2:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, at least these folks are working!!!! Not living off the system like so many Americans seem to do. I have step daughters who have lived off the system for years and love having more kids just to stay on it. Hello, it is time we all stop being bigots. Most of the young people today won't even work for wages that don't start at $10.00 an hour. And those with degrees would rather stay on unemployement that to get a job that pays something a little less than what they use to make. Sorry our country will go down the tubes if people don't start working, playing, and praying together.

March 21 2011 at 2:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to akts02kpm's comment

Those with degrees are staying on unemployment because 1.) They have to search for a job. 2.) WHY would ANYONE work a 40 hour week for LESS than what they make on unemployment? The government doesn't pay for unemployment the EMPLOYER collects it from the EMPLOYEE via taxes.
Your stepdaughters need to be turned in NOW before they reproduce into a long line of slobs.

March 21 2011 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Border Patrol, INS, and I.C.E. need to investigate "AMERICAN GIRL" store in New York city and find out if those mexicans in the pictures are legal US citizens.

March 21 2011 at 1:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

American Girl is a Wisconsin-based brand of dolls, books, clothing and accessories
Ok now China runs Wisconsin???? Crackpots

March 21 2011 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

an american doll that looks like a mexican and is getting its hair styled by mexicans and the doll was made in china.

March 21 2011 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ldoe303's comment

and your point is?????? Mexicans are every bit as American as you and I.

March 21 2011 at 1:15 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to visitor3250's comment

nope 40 million are here spewing out babies illegally -- thats not American

March 21 2011 at 1:22 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down

@visitor3250 HUH??? Let's turn this around. Say I wanted to 'escape' to this craphole called Mexico. I jump the fence with my backpack, 7 bratty kids and a 6-pack of Corona. WHEN I'm caught, my children are taken and I am put in JAIL for 5 years - no questions asked - because I am in the country ILLEGALLY. Could you imagine if that happened here in the US?? Get your head out of your anus!!! "Mexicans are every bit as American as you and I." You are as stupid as they come.

March 21 2011 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Wow! What news...!!!!!! AOL and the left wing media always focus in on what the foreigners are doing in our country. What we need is more and more foreigners coming into the U.S. from 3rd world countries, Muslims, Mexicans, Africans,etc to stir up more hostility between the races.

March 21 2011 at 12:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to ddiribbons's comment
Hi Shawn & Laura

the chinese are laughing at us. they make a doll called "american girl" and why shouldnt they they own half of our country anyway. i find it sad that many ppl dont see this as an issue. maybe if it was a union shop that lost their jobs, ppl would care.

March 21 2011 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hi Shawn & Laura's comment

I agree the dolls should be made in America but no one here lost their jobs over the dolls being manufactured in China because the dolls were never made here to begin with. No American factory shut down to move production to China. The dolls were originally made in West Germany, then China. Never here so no American jobs were lost. It would, of course, be preferable if they would move production here and create new American jobs. American Girl has created jobs for Americans by opening the stores though.

March 21 2011 at 2:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

REALLY???!! Do we really need all this racist crap from ignorant ppl!? They do have other styles of dolls that would fit your narrow-minded little box-of-a-world view! Get over it already!

March 21 2011 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wendyeparker8's comment

@ WENDY None of this conversation is 'racist' you idiot. It's about companies either outsourcing or moving operations to another country but the majority of said company's sales generating in the US. If it's 'racist' to be irritated about illegals in the US taking full advantage of citizens (taxpayer) benefits (Social security, unemployment, free health care, food stamps, etc) then I guess I am a 'racist'. Until you know the financial ramifications of 11 million illegal moochers in the US then shut the EFF up!!! It's the same thing if 100 people moved into your house and expected you to feed them and clothe them. I am SO SICK of people making light of the Illegal situation in the US. There's no problem with people immigrating here: Do it right, LEARN ENGLISH, GET A JOB, Pay TAXES, STAY OUT OF JAIL, CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY, ADAPT TO AMERICAN CULTURE AND LEAVE YOUR SOMBRERO OR TOWEL AND RELIGIOUS EXTREME-ISMS AT THE BOARDER!!!!!

March 21 2011 at 5:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

they were originally made by pleasant company then mattel bought them out I also have 3 original patterns form the pleasant compNY

March 21 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sjvanb's comment

so ??? I'll give you 5 bucks for the whole collection...

March 21 2011 at 12:35 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I'm 65 and i have 2 american Girl dolls and 1 Bitty Baby not to mention hundreds of barbies and a lot of other dolls I collect them mainly from garage sales I love doing their hair.

March 21 2011 at 12:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sjvanb's comment

Me too when I was younger i used to wash and style the hair to make it look good in my room.

March 21 2011 at 1:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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