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4 Aug

Brooklyn’s Beauty, Wellness Boom – WWD

On a balmy July evening, stylish beauty editors and influencers stepped out of their Ubers of their best outfits and asked friends and colleagues to film them entering the brand new Chanel Beauté store on North sixth Street in Williamsburg, the hipster haven-turned somewhat luxe neighborhood situated in north Brooklyn. Inside, they chatted loudly as servers handed out glasses of Champagne in between bottles of Chanel No 5 displayed in gold bird cages, partitions of fragrances and blown-up images of Chanel ambassador Timothée Chalamet.

Every week later, bougie fragrance brand Byredo — of which Puig recently acquired a majority stake — hosted an identical soiree to toast the opening of its latest store, which happens to be round the corner to Chanel’s outpost.

Chanel’s latest fragrance and wonder boutique in Williamsburg.

Photo courtesy of Chanel/Whitney Cox

“Brooklyn, during the last decade, has grow to be a world brand,” said Latest York real estate expert Jonathan Miller, president and chief executive officer of appraisal firm Miller Samuel. “It is smart for any sort of global brand to be related to that location.”

While the gentrification of neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Dumbo began 15 or so years ago, the pandemic drove much more people out of Manhattan and into Brooklyn looking for additional space, accelerating the trend of luxe retailers, beauty brands and services, and fitness and wellness studios, a lot of whom were at one time very Manhattan-centric.

“It’s following the consumer, as we are saying,” noted Wendy Liebmann, a retail analyst and chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail.

Brandon Singer, chief executive officer and founding father of industrial real estate brokerage Mona, chalked the trend up to some of standout aspects. “For the past 15 years [Brooklyn] has grow to be slowly but surely cool; Williamsburg is where all of the hipsters were, and the Latest Jersey Nets moved to Brooklyn. Different parts of Brooklyn have been developing over the past 10 to fifteen years pretty quickly,” he said. Today, the population of Brooklyn is estimated at 2.7 million people.

Singer added that when COVID-19 ushered within the work-from-home era, it became “pretty logical that the primary place outside of Manhattan someone can go to, which has any form of distant sense of an urban sort of environment — is Brooklyn.”

This sort of migration isn’t exactly latest.  

“You see this over and once more in several neighborhoods in Latest York City,” said Singer. “The restaurants go there because, frankly, the rent is cheaper, after which the people come; it becomes cool, then the retailers come.”

And boy have they arrive. 

In Williamsburg, Chanel Beauty and Byredo’s predecessors include Credo Beauty, Glossier, Glowbar, Sephora, Alo, Skin Laundry, Aesop, Every/Body and Solidcore — to call just a couple of. Soon, the realm will welcome a Latest York Pilates studio and acupuncture center, Wthn.

“[Williamsburg] has probably been considered one of our top requested locations the past several years,” said Brion Isaacs, Latest York Pilates co-owner and artistic director.

Michelle Larivee, Wthn cofounder and CEO, added: “With the pandemic, rather a lot more individuals are working from home in Brooklyn, which makes it a gorgeous market by way of people being there for hours a day after which we’ve also seen offices begin to pop up in Brooklyn as well so just having that sort of live/work/play atmosphere.”

Demand appears to be strong across the board, with Kyle Leahy, the CEO of Glossier, telling Beauty Inc there was a six hour-long line on opening day back in November.

“It’s been an exquisite store for us,” she said. “The community was ready for us and excited to welcome Glossier to Brooklyn. For us, it’s an exquisite interplay between Brooklyn in Williamsburg and our SoHo flagship, where we expect of Williamsburg as very much a neighborhood store — smaller format and has that sort of neighborhood bodega feel.”

Andria Soule, director of studios of the Northeast at Solidcore, which has locations in Williamsburg and Dumbo, said that its Williamsburg studio is its most profitable. “Our Williamsburg studio is so busy; it’s truly bursting on the seams,” she said, adding that neither Williamsburg nor Dumbo were amongst Solidcore’s top performing studios before the pandemic. “Now each of them are two of our highest-volume studios, because people just either stayed and lived in Brooklyn or they stopped commuting and so they’re capable of make money working from home.”

Gregg Throgmartin, CEO of laser facial chain Skin Laundry, which has a location in Williamsburg, sees Brooklyn as an important a part of constructing a national footprint. 

“If you happen to take a look at Brooklyn, I believe if it was its own city, it might be the fifth largest in america, so if you happen to’re constructing a national brand, the sheer population that’s there is sort of large,” he said. “The rationale that we put that higher on our list than a variety of other cities which have good demographics is Brooklyn has a really trendy customer base. After which that just sort of perpetuates itself, right?”

Brothers Ash and Aiden Kim even decided to establish their cosmetics brand Meloway within the neighborhood during a 2018 meeting at a Williamsburg coffee shop.

While it’s an FDA requirement that brands put their address on the packaging, the duo decided to make their Brooklyn address front and center, especially within the case of their lipstick and mascara. (Versus having it listed in small print on a sticker at the underside of the product.)

“We felt such love for the place and likewise Brooklyn is where our office is,” said Ash Kim. “So not only just putting that address on our carton, but wanting to place it on the essential packaging as well because Brooklyn is such an identity for the brand.”

Meloway Hi-Rise Matte lipsticks

However it’s not only Williamsburg. More family-focused neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Park Slope, too, have seen an influx of beauty brands, services and studios. These areas also occur to be home to myriad celebrities including Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, Michelle Williams, Matt Damon, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, Jemima Kirke, Paul Rudd, Amy Schumer and Norah Jones. 

Silver Mirror, the fast-facial bar, for one, is opening a location in Downtown Brooklyn, on the border of Brooklyn Heights, in the autumn. While it’s the fifth location in Latest York City, it’ll be the brand’s first in Brooklyn.

“All those trains are right there. Individuals who live and work have to come back through that area and it just matches in with who our demo is,” said Matt Maroone, founder and co-CEO.  “We also like that Brooklyn is sort of a decentralized borough/city. This was the meeting point of Brooklyn for us.”

Glowbar, one other fast-facial spot which has been in Williamsburg for some time, just opened a latest location in Cobble Hill and can debut one other in Park Slope. 

Photo by: Alex Knight Studio (www.alexknightstudio.com)

Glowbar Cobble Hill

Alex Knight Studio

“Cobble Hill was an easy complement to our Williamsburg studio because they’re really different trade markets. The Williamsburg customer really doesn’t go for his or her each day must Cobble Hill and vice versa,” said Rachel Liverman, Glowbar CEO and founder.

Sephora has locations in Downtown Brooklyn and in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall, in addition to a smaller shop in Williamsburg. Aesop is in Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Williamsburg. Profit’s beloved brow bar, meanwhile, has been in Cobble Hill since around 2015.

However the OG of Cobble Hill beauty needs to be Jessica Richards, who opened Shen Beauty on Court Street, a historically Italian neighborhood, back in 2010. Shen is understood for its introduction of recent brands into the market and is popular with the troves of celebrities who call that a part of Brooklyn home.

Shen Beauty at 138 Court Street.

“I spotted that I used to be at all times going into town for beauty so I made a decision to open a store with every little thing that I had bought while I used to be traveling and that we were all using,” she said. “At first, after we opened it was an actual struggle. People didn’t know what it was. Brooklyn hadn’t been gentrified yet; that neighborhood 14 years ago may be very different than it’s now.”

That each one modified when, around three years in, she persuaded Bobbi Brown to sell in the shop, which also offers services akin to brow shaping and facials. 

“After that, we actually began seeing a rise in sales and we became profitable quite quickly, and customers were more open at the moment to testing a product that they had never heard of or seen,” said Richards, whose secret sauce is to “deal with the story, the ingredients and the efficacy, and if it’s needed in our assortment. I also imagine in launching newness and supporting latest brands, whether or not they’ve been in a foreign country for 20 years.”

While the neighborhood welcomed many latest residents throughout the pandemic, Richards also noticed an exodus of residents to the suburbs. They still shop together with her online, while the brand new residents are inclined to visit the brick-and-mortar location.

Beyond these newcomers, though, Brooklyn has a wealthy homegrown beauty scene, from the Russian bath houses in Brighton Beach to an abundance of textured hair and nail salons across Flatbush, Bed-Stuy and the downtown area.

The Laq Lab, for instance, is a Black-owned nail salon near Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets, which opened its doors last summer and has already garnered notoriety for its signature chrome nails and distinctly pink interior. 

“It’s a pleasant self care getaway,” said Tasama Craig, who cofounded the salon with Lawren Lee to service clients within the greater Brooklyn area, but has drawn regulars from Harlem, the Bronx and beyond. “Customers need something like this; they feel comfortable here.” 

At The Laq Lab, visitors are greeted with their selection of either a water or a Bellini; they sit in plush pink and white chairs and cure their nail polish in baby-pink UV lamps. 

The Laq Lab.

The Laq Lab.


On July 7 — the day after Beyoncé’s second performance at MetLife Stadium for her ongoing tour — the singer’s “Renaissance” album plays from start to complete on the salon. In between verses of “Church Girl” and Après Gel X prep, technicians and clients alike chatter about who amongst them saw Beyoncé. 

One manicurist, who goes by P, didn’t secure tickets to either of her Latest Jersey shows, but is undeterred nevertheless — “it’s not over until it’s over,” she said.

By P’s calculations, she primped a minimum of six nail sets that did make their method to the concert events so, principally, “I used to be there in spirit, you realize?”

Other loved nail salons in the realm include Bed-Stuy’s Element Beauty and Luna Nail lounges, while Ursula Stephen’s namesake hair salon and Xia Charles’ Braided have grow to be cultural staples, servicing A-listers like Rihanna and Cardi B along with the area people. 

With regards to Brooklyn, though, the nail and hair spheres are only as much about independent technicians as they’re about salons. 

This has long been true, but became much more so following salon closures throughout the pandemic, which prompted some stylists to take their work into their very own hands — and houses. 

Annie Bunns is one such technician. Born and raised in Trinidad, Bunns got here to Bed-Stuy greater than a decade ago and has been taking nail appointments out of her home for the previous few years.

“I actually have a variety of clients that come from Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Flatbush,” said Bunns, who will soon graduate to a salon suite in Flatbush. “My clients love the ghetto-fab look.”

Her design M.O. includes intricate linework, as many Swarovski crystals as possible, and, recently, duck-shaped nails, which taper out at the ideas. Once ubiquitous within the early 2010s, the nail shape is seeing a resurgence in Brooklyn.  

A recent duck shaped nail set by Bunns.

A recent duck-shaped nail set by Bunns.


“For just like the last 10 years, everybody was like, ‘no, duck nails are ugly, I can’t wear them,’ now I feel like Black girls, Latino women — all the women that love nails have been coming in asking for them.”

Bunns charges between $70 to $140 for the common set, and estimates her clients have spent a cumulative $5,000 on duck-shaped nails this summer alone.  

Press-on nails — which have grown in each popularity and intricacy lately — have proven a lucrative business for independent artists like Bunns and salons like Laq Lab. 

And Bunns envisions the trend going a step further: Prestige retail. 

“I’d like to see Sephora selling press-ons. Start having them on the wall — you’re thinking that we don’t want our nails done after we get our makeup done?” she said.  

Braided alum Kerrisha Tichiana branched out throughout the pandemic to found Kerri Beauty Lab, accepting clients out of a salon suite in Williamsburg, while other distinguished Brooklyn hair stylists like Kee’Ana Amari and Kyndal Baldwin have built client bases entirely through Instagram by posting their work. 

But because the gentrification of Brooklyn continues, having a stand-alone shop within the borough and not using a big corporation behind it is not any easy feat as each industrial and residential rents soar, risking more residents being priced out.

“There’s been numerous media coverage about people who have moved from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side to lower your expenses,” said Miller. “It’s a story that Brooklyn was seen as a less expensive place to live than Manhattan and now that story has been turned the other way up and the result could be a proliferation of more luxury brands becoming aligned with Brooklyn.”

“We’re in a housing affordability crisis, but we’re also in an actual estate affordability crisis,” said Dominique Jean-Louis, chief historian on the Center for Brooklyn History. “The general astronomical rise of rents for people to live and likewise for businesses to thrive, it’s becoming increasingly difficult.” 

The middle has been collecting oral histories for years concerning the importance of local barbers, hair salons and wonder shops and their importance to the encircling communities.

“When people speak about their upbringings here one of the consistent themes are these places of community and so they’re often community-owned as well,” she said. “All of those places have been central to definitely a Brooklyn childhood and upbringing for generations, and so now that affordability is actually reaching a crisis point. [These beauty spaces], they’re not only sort of nice to have. In lots of cases, they’re vital to have. It’s where a community encounters one another and without a reasonable method to proceed, what community means will change drastically based on what spaces it has to thrive and so that is going to be a significant indicator for what community looks like for the subsequent few generations a minimum of.”

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