Entries in Williamsburg (2)

Saturday
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.

Sunday
Mar072010

Sasha Alekseyeva

Sasha Alekseyeva of Woodley & Bunny

We work in an industry where people choose us; what makes people choose you? I started at sixteen and I've been doing this for ten years. I've been here at Woodley & Bunny since October 2009. I'm less in this for fame and glamour, but I'm in it for the people. I make personal connections with my clients. My biggest strength is that I listen and take into consideration people's limits, boundaries, their work and lifestyle to create a style that's all theirs.

If you could pick one person (living or dead) to cut, color, or style; who would that be?  That's tough. I'm gonna have to get back to you on that one. 

Describe your viewpoint on the evolution of our industry: It's definitely getting better in terms of texturing services and tools. Color techniques have also come a long way. But with cutting, everything new is well-forgotten old. The cuts that are coming back are retro styles given new life. I love it; it's always so inspiring to see the Sassoon creative team do all these avant-garde crazy futuristic themes using the same techniques that have been developed already, but putting them in different sections of the head.

What motivates you? Definitely music, since I'm a musician. I play bass guitar and bongos. I also do photography, so I get inspired a lot by nature. The different shapes and colors and textures that I've found outside of my world. Architecture is also big with me. Gary House, my ex-boss will always have a very special place in my heart because of his work ethic. He helped form my approach to hair and the business. And Erin (Anderson), she's done an amazing portfolio and is definitely an inspiration in terms of editorial work. But, I love being behind the chair and working with people. I like the one on one connection.

Why Williamsburg? I'm definitely drawn here because of how creative it is: there's a huge artist community here, so I find the work a lot more fun. People take a lot more chances. People are more likely to do something a bit more crazy than in the city, because they don't have the 9 to 5 office job... well, not everybody.

If you could change anything, what would you do to be revolutionary? I would make the salon experience a more personal one. In the bigger, more corporate salons, an assistant takes them to the station; one person cuts them, then they're rushed off to another assistant who blow-dries them, and they're rushed off to another person that colors them. So, I would get back to using less assistants to set ourselves apart from all the other hairdressers out there. A lot of stylists are cutting down on their times so that they can fit more people in and make more money. I think I would do it the other way around and in the long run I would make more money, because people do care about stuff like that.

What do you think of the hair reality shows that have become so popular? I think they're entertaining, but they have less to do with our craft and more to do with the ego and personalities the hairstylists, and to me that's not attractive at all. But I don't have television. Haven't had TV in three years- I feel like it leaves more room for arts and music, you know?

What are you listening to these days? It depends on my mood: Television, The Shirelles, RJD2, I like it all. I like electronic, I like hip hop, you name it.

Sasha will give her personalized touch at Woodley & Bunny in Brooklyn, NY.