Debbie Rodriguez

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Deborah Rodriguez
Born Deborah Rodriguez
Occupation Novelist & Hairdresser
Nationality American
Period 2007–present
Genre Non-fiction, Biography/Autobiography, Memoir, Realistic fiction
Notable works 'Kabul Beauty School'

Deborah "Debbie" Rodriguez is an American author, hairdresser, and humanitarian, who creates safe spaces that provide women with a way out of domestic violence and chaotic circumstances.


In 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid after the fall of the Taliban. Soon after arriving, she became involved in the set up of a beauty school training program to certify Afghan women to work in and set up their own beauty parlors to give them a chance at financial independence.[1] She later opened a coffee shop in Kabul.[2]

Rodriguez wrote two bestselling books based on her experiences in Afghanistan; The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and Kabul Beauty School.[3] [4] [5] At one point, Kabul Beauty School was slated to become a movie, with Sandra Bullock playing the lead.[5] Some controversy followed the publishing of Kabul Beauty School. In the book, Rodriguez portrays herself as the founder and main force behind the success of the beauty school. However, other women who were also involved at the founding of the Kabul Beauty School say the book is filled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies, that events did not unfold the way Rodriguez depicts them, and that she exaggerated her role in the formation of the school. They say that she moved the school from the Ministry of Women's Affairs (Afghanistan) to the house she shared with her Afghan husband, and that she took over the school for personal gain.[6] Some of the women who worked at the beauty school said that, because of the publication of the book and the details it revealed about them, their lives had been put in danger. Some also claimed that Rodriguez had not made good on promises for financial support and other help.[5] However, Rodriguez claims that she was careful to protect the identities of the women mentioned in the book, and that they were all enthusiastic about telling their stories knowing that was the case.[7]

In 2002, Rodriguez married an Afghan, Samer Mohammad Abdul Khan, who works for Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. She had known Khan for 20 days before the marriage, though they don’t speak the same language and he had a wife in Saudi Arabia, with whom he retained a romantic relationship; his first wife became pregnant with his eighth child while he was married to Rodriguez. The marriage with Rodriguez was reported as a happy one as late as April 2007,[8] but soon after, she had to flee Afghanistan.[5]

Rodriguez now lives in Mazatlan, Mexico, where she is the owner of Tippy Toes Salon and Marrakesh Spa,[9] and where she has established Project Mariposa, providing funding for young women to attend beauty school, with the goal of helping them to become independent and self-supporting.[9] Margarita Wednesdays (The House on Carnaval Street), a new book detailing her journey to remake her life after being forced to leave Afghanistan, was released in June, 2014.[9] Her latest book, Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, was released in March 2016.[10]



  • Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil (1 January 2007)
  • Margarita Wednesdays: Making a New Life by the Mexican Sea (published as The House on Carnaval Street in some countries) (10 June 2014)


  • The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (19 November 2012)
  • Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (28 March 2016)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heidi Kingston (2007-05-12). "Mother-of-two's transformation in Afghanistan from burka to bikini". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-03-26.  [1]
  2. ^ Euan Kerr (2014-01-20). "Lessons from a war-zone coffee shop". MPR. Retrieved 2011-01-03.  [2]
  3. ^ Random House Australia (2014-01-22). "Top 10 Australian Bestsellers of 2013". Random House. Retrieved 2014-03-24.  [3]
  4. ^ The Guardian (2014-01-22). "Bestselling books of 2013: the chart". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-03-24.  [4]
  5. ^ a b c d Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson (2007-06-01). "Subjects of 'Kabul Beauty School' Face New Risks". NPR. Retrieved 2009-10-03.  [5]
  6. ^ ABBY ELLIN (2007-04-27). "Shades of Truth: An Account of a Kabul School Is Challenged". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-03.  [6]
  7. ^ Embassy of Afghanistan (2007-04-01). "'Kabul Beauty School' offers inspiration for women". Embassy of Afghanistan. Retrieved 2014-03-24.  [7]
  8. ^ "People looked at me like I had three heads. You could see them thinking 'She's as crazy as a loon.' And it's true that I had no idea what I was doing". The Daily Telegraph. 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2009-10-03.  [8]
  9. ^ a b c Publishers Weekly (2014-03-10). "Margarita Wednesdays: A Memoir". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2014-03-24.  [9]
  10. ^ Ramkumar, Parvathi. "Clash of cultures". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 

External links[edit]

Official website