One girl’s mission: help kids who lose their hair to keep on smiling

CHICAGO -- Rosie Quinn’s personality fills the room: chatty, bubbly, and funny, the five-year-old isn’t letting alopecia slow her down.

She wasn’t born with the autoimmune disease that attacks her hair follicles. Rosie’s hair was thick and long early on, according to her parents. But when she was two years old her mom started to notice a bald spot on the top of her head.

“Within a week and a half the hair was completely gone,” said Paula, her mother. “I remember walking into her room in the morning and just seeing curls on the pillow.”

“Usually a lot of kids would ask me if I have cancer, why did your hair fall out, or are you a boy or a girl?” Rosie remembers.

Paula praises the doctors at Lurie Children’s Hospital who treated Rosie’s physical issues, but she was still concerned about keeping her daughter happy.

“As parents we’re thinking, ‘how are we going to get this two-year-old to feel good about herself when everything is princesses, berets, and bows?”

So Rosie and her mom turned to a whole different accessory: beautiful headscarves designed with Rosie’s own artwork.

“We can’t control the hair but we can control the outlook, and their confidence going into the world without hair,” Paula said.

Seeing how the scarves helped make Rosie feel both happy and confident, the mom and daughter team decided to launch their own website just over a month ago. Coming Up Rosies sells her scarves and donates a portion of the proceeds to an alopecia support group.

The family also donated scarf kits to Luries so other kids battling hair loss can put their own work on scarves. They hope to get kits into children’s hospitals across the country.

“If it does good for one other person then our mission’s accomplished,” she said.

As for Rosie, she’s found another upside to baldness: no head lice.