As the daughter of Sicilian immigrants, there was much pressure placed on the young Maria Lanza to go to college, become a doctor, and live the American dream, but even as a child, prone to cutting and braiding the manes of her Barbies, Maria knew she wanted to be a hairstylist. At the age of nineteen, tired of the Eastside attitude she encountered in the salon she was working in, she entered an ad in the Village Voice and was soon whisked away to the other side of town to begin work as an assistant at David Ryan Salon in Hell's Kitchen. Specializing in color and highlights, the "boutiquie" salon was well rooted in the neighborhood, having first opened its doors in 1991. Though, by 2005 salon owner David Ryan was ready to retire, and having worked her way from assistant to manager to Master Stylist, Maria Lanza stepped up to take over the reigns. As the owner of her own business, Maria is glad to say she now has the full support of her family who was at first dubious of her alternate route to success. Today, they are proud of the salon, which offers a range of services including men's cuts, smoothing treatments, extensions and even makeup application. Maria ensures that David Ryan Salon has something for everyone, and with eleven stylists and flexible appointment times, there are plenty of opportunities to prove her right.
While this is not the only Kiehl’s store in Manhattan, it is certainly the one with the most character. This store offers all of the quality products we expected, but with such a fun atmosphere, it was hard to believe we were in a high-end skincare boutique. The store is beautifully decorated with fun art, an eye-catching painted skeleton statue and a large antique motorcycle. One corner of the room is plastered in photo booth pictures taken by visitors right there in the store. Yes, a free photo booth in a skincare store - no purchase necessary. The friendly staff has no problem with visitors wandering in and spending as much time as they would like inside the photo booth, printing page after page of fun, nostalgic photos. As one of the staff members said, “It’s for you to enjoy. ” Perhaps the only thing more exciting than free photos is free products, and Kiehl’s offers that as well. Next to the photo booth they have set up a recycling center where customers who bring back their old Kiehl’s bottles receive points, which they can then use to get brand new products. Never before have we found so many perks while browsing for lip balm.
Not being a person who uses makeup, I was totally unaware of this Paris-based makeup company until we walked in and learned that they have shops around the world. Dany Sanz, the founder, first began offering classes at her Academy in Paris in 1984. Today she and a team of others continue to teach simple and accelerated techniques in makeup design. Upstairs on 12th Street they offering cosmetics workshops, but it is on the ground floor where all the action takes place. There are multiple chairs set up for clients to sit and have makeup applied, receive a make-up lesson, or purchase their favorite products. It was a fun experience to spend time here and a total surprise to find this gem on a side street nestled between restaurants and residences.
Designing a Broadway show? Shooting your own horror film? Making the annual trek to Comic Con? Your first stop should be a trip to W 29th Street’s Manhattan Wardrobe Supply — a specialty hair, makeup, costume and craft shop whose motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it! ” Carrying everything from hard-to-find professional hair and makeup products to sewing and jewelry supplies to sought-after sneaker paint, Manhattan Wardrobe Supply is the go-to for film, TV and theatrical designers as well as everyday New Yorkers with a vision. Operating out of a humble Chelsea office building for the past 25 years, the 6, 000 square-foot public warehouse is a veritable candy store of craft, all lovingly curated by veteran costume and wardrobe supervisors Cheryl Kilbourne-Kimpton and Tommy Boyer. “I got a job working on a film by accident, ” laughed Cheryl, who initially studied fashion in college and was working as a stylist in Atlanta, Georgia, when Hollywood came calling. “They needed a seamstress, and when the set costumer left the show, they bumped me up — even though I’d never been on a movie set before, ” she added. “Through trial and error, I got through that job — and I got the bug. This was at a time when Atlanta was not as hot as it is now for film and TV, and I thought: ‘Well, if I’m really going to do this, I’ve got to move to New York or LA’. I moved up here and that’s how I got started! ”Tommy began his career as a professional performer, eventually moving backstage to work as a star dresser on Broadway, as a costume and wardrobe supervisor across film and TV, and as a dresser to movie megastar Richard Gere. He was hired in 1996 by Cheryl to work on the Gwyneth Paltrow and David Schwimmer helmed film The Pallbearer. “We hit it off, ” said Cheryl, and the two went on to work together on multiple films before deciding to open Manhattan Wardrobe Supply. It was on the set of one of these films — the iconic Nora Ephron New York rom-com You’ve Got Mail — that Tommy and Cheryl dreamed up the idea for a one-stop shop for busy designers used to running around the city looking for specialty items at a moment’s notice. On August 1, 1998, they opened the doors at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply and haven’t looked back. “People come to us because we are in the business and they know we’ll have what they need, ” said Tommy, “and if we don't have it, then we will either send you someplace else that does have it, or we'll find a way that we can bring it in for you. ” Setting up shop in Chelsea has allotted the team at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply a plum location for running a tube of fake blood over to the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd or a hair product to Only Murders in the Building. “One of our favorite things has always been being able to accommodate the needs of industry, ” said Tommy. “ You never know what someone's going to order — whether it will be three bottles of paint or 50 bottles of paint for the Metropolitan Opera! ” While they love helping fellow designers out, some of their favorite clients often come from the very low budget category. “I think it's fun to see people come in here all the time with projects — some of 'em are really bizarre, ” laughed Cheryl. “One time someone asked me how they could put an earring on a pig. I was like, ‘and how, how is it going to stay on the pig? ’ The challenge is to figure out how to help everyone, ” she added. “I love it when they send us pictures of the finished project — it’s really great to see what they've come up with, because people are really, really creative out there and they have some wild things that they're doing! ”
Everything about Klara Beauty Lab embraces the overall ambience of tranquility and hospitality, from the teal, turquoise, and white color palate to the welcoming plate of cookies in the waiting room. I immediately felt tingly and at ease upon walking in. The greatest source of calm is, of course, Klara Chrzuszcz herself, who greeted me warmly. I congratulated her on using her space to its full potential. In every inch of the side street shop there are comforting touches to make customers feel relaxed. An especially personal detail of the spa is the display of elegant leather accessories, including wrap around belts and necklaces - Klara is a leather worker in her free time. When I asked Klara what got her into the skincare world, she apologized for the cliché and said, “I had problems with my own skin. ” It was a touching answer even if, as she claims, it is a common one, but it was also hard for me to believe as I looked at her currently flawless complexion. Klara is a walking advertisement for clear skin and beauty, with her glowing face, sparkling eyes, and sleek, pulled back hair. Her route to owning a medical spa, however, was circuitous. She studied pediatric psychology in Poland and, upon graduating, helped children who had dealt with trauma reenter normal life. “I’m a giver, ” Klara said with a humble smile, reflecting back on those years when she learned that whatever she did with her life, she wanted to help people. She attended different programs and courses in London, Ireland, and Poland before moving to New York in 2004 and opening Klara Beauty Lab. I was impressed by the multiple certificates and diplomas on her walls, but Klara assured me that she is never done learning: “It is my passion and my profession. ” Klara went on to tell me that she is a pioneer for a number of products and procedures, most recently Lash Lift, a treatment that helps women reach their full eye lash length without using extensions. She was also proud to tell me that she has a wide range of clients who come to her from as far away as Dubai, Singapore, and Taiwan. Klara sets up champagne and food for her guests. “It’s their relaxing time, ” Klara said simply. She has had some of the same clients for eleven years, whom she refers to as her “loyal spies. ” But whether the it is a client's first facial or hundredth, Klara tries to make them as relaxed as possible - Klara revealed to me, laughing, “I love when people snore during their treatments. ”
Naturopathica is a one-stop shop for healing and wellness. The modern, uncluttered storefront on 26th Street contains a vitality bar where customers can purchase tonics, elixirs, tinctures, teas, and cold-pressed juices – as well as simple coffee and specialty hot drinks including spiced hot chocolate, matcha lattes, and coconut kava lattes. Each blend serves a purpose, whether it is to aid with healthy, clear skin, balance natural immunity, or ease stress or joint pain. And there is a lot of room for customization: for instance, kombucha, coconut water, and any juice can be combined with a herbal tincture and a vitality shot. On the other side of the store, there are shelves of Naturopathica’s various skin care products and remedies. The back wall, the “Remedy Bar, ” has jars of loose tea for visitors who wish to continue their road to wellness at home. As Heather Neufeld, the spa director of the Chelsea location, pointed out, Naturopathica has a “360 degree approach to wellness. ”As we were walking through the space, Heather shared a bit of background on Barbara Close, the founder and CEO. After being trained in aromatherapy, Barbara decided to create skincare and herbal remedies to reduce inflammation in the body and skin. She got her start in the mid-1990s and has since gained a reputation in the wellness and lifestyle world, thanks in part to attention from celebrities, notably Martha Stewart. Her methods involve products that work with the body’s natural processes rather than against them. She opened her first Healing Arts Center in East Hampton and has had her products carried in over 450 renowned resort and day spas in North America. Heather spoke about the East Hampton center, mentioning that it “speaks to the heritage of the brand. ” Enter the Manhattan store, which opened in December 2015: the new, twenty-first century base for Naturopathica. The Vitality Bar is one of their new features, and Heather says that it has been a wonder for introducing people to the brand. “There’s a discovery point for everyone, no matter where you are on your wellness journey. ” Even those who just come in for a coffee and decide to try dandelion root tea instead have been aided by Naturopathica. After all, “Your gut has so much to do with your overall health. ” What many people do not realize upon their initial visit, myself included, is that Naturopathica is much larger than it appears. Walking through a door in the back, I discovered numerous treatment rooms. Each one was decorated with their signature blue, with some rooms containing "seperatory funnels" filled with colorful oils. In addition to the six rooms, there is a consultation area where therapists can have private conversations and share their thoughtful cards that give clients a step-by-step list of instructions. Around the corner, a calming meditation center was situated, with a peaceful projection of a night sky in the woods. The projected photography evolves, but the softly glowing candles and variety of mats and low seats remain constant. As Heather led me back to the front, she assured me, “We practice what we preach. ” Her enthusiasm for the culture that Barbara has created was apparent. “Everything is mindfully created. ”
Originally a pharmacy selling products for showgirls, Alcone has been in business since 1950. Now owned by the Mallardi family, it is the go-to makeup company for TV, film and Broadway actors. Academy Award-winning makeup artists have collaborated with Alcone on notable projects, including the face of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Of course, those who do not work in entertainment also frequent the shop and the manager, Jacob, indicated that their products come in a wide range of prices. When asked about being located on a side street, Jacob told us that the neighborhood is simply "awesome. " "The Theatre District, " he went on, "not only brings in the actors, but also welcomes the tourists. " Even if you aren't looking to purchase anything, a trip to Alcone is still worth it, if only to see some of the items that spawned the Blue Man Group.