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Jul172010

miomia apothecary

Storefront of miomia, 318 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Apothecary interior

The mysterious Katie Chang

Miomia is a delightfully unique apothecary catering to mens' skincare and grooming needs. It's located at 318 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, and New York Magazine ranks it as one of the city's top five beauty stores. I had the great fortune to meet and share some laughs and and a few stories with the shop's owner and curator Katie Chang.

How did you get started with miomia?

I love products! I needed a career change from the corporate world- I hated it. I wrote my thesis on men's grooming in grad school because I was interested in the emerging market in the United States. And then also, growing up being a beauty junkie like every other girl, I reached the point where I realized that apothecaries were no longer offering anything different than department stores. You could go into apothecaries and find those cool underground corporate-free brands, but by the time I reached college every apothecary had Bliss, Kiehl's, Molton Brown, and the same lineup that you would find at Saks or Barneys. I was going to focus on men's grooming, and I wanted to create a space that was 100% corporate-free. And from my understanding, no other business in the world has done that as an apothecary, so I'm really proud of that. That I stick to.

What were your main observations from your thesis?

Norms of heterosexual male identity in America were very cyclical. I felt that it was repeating itself within a seven to ten year cycle. That's not the case any more; with the internet it's increasing at a different speed and disseminating in different ways. Norms of straight male identity are unusual. They're different in America than in southeast Asia, eastern Europe, western Europe. The US market: it's still sort of new, the corporations are still not quite sure what to do with that demographic. The bottom line is that I treat my guy customers with the same respect I would with women. I don't treat them as an afterthought, and I think a lot of salons make that mistake. They treat guys like, "oh yeah, and men's haircuts are little cheaper and we do have some men's shaving cream." 

What was your catalyst for doing this? Did you just see a need in the market?

It happened organically. I knew I wanted to open my business, I had this academic background, and I'm really passionate about men's grooming; so why not capitalize on it and see what can happen? Slowly and organically.

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