As someone who grew up thinking that a clean shaven face looked good on me, I always relied on myself to take care of things with some Barbasol and a good Gillette razor when it came to keeping my face clean. In my early 20’s I discovered the beard looked good on me but angling it wasn’t necessarily an expertise I was good in so I started relying on barbers to do the work for me in a professional manner. I have gone to a bevy of those since then, yet recently a friend of mine recommended trying out a new hot spot in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn that goes beyond the normal trim and chat- The Blue & Black Apothecary Barber Shop.
A great corner location right in the heart of Carroll Gardens, Blue & Black provides incredible grooming in a chilled, relaxed environment. To go along with your grooming experience, you can also choose from a great selection of beer on tap from their neighbors Other Half Brewery & Manhattan Specials to enjoy a cold beverage. On top of all of this they boost a great line of men’s grooming products from Malin & Goetz, Cool Grease, Civil & Blackbird just to name a few. I stopped by there a week ago and had a phenomenal time. They did a fantastic job on the type of cut that I like and the proof is in the above photo. While I was there, I sat down and chatted it up with owners Keith Krystofolsky & Anthony DeAngelis about Blue & Black itself, from how they came up with the name, why it is called an Apothecary, the services they provide and what is next for the brand. Take a look.
We were looking in South Brooklyn for a number of months. Key elements were a corner space, great light, solid traffic and hood where you could hang out, chill and relax away from crazy traffic and the concrete big box hype that is so much of the city these days. We wanted to be off the beaten path, while still on it. Equally important as a good landlord, who we respected us, respected the neighborhood and that we could partner with. Then, while having lunch at Prime Meats, there is was, staring at us, across the street. The perfect location: awesome foot traffic, great restaurants around shops around, a masculine vibe and a place where we could differentiate ourselves and be part of a neighborhood in a chilled out, almost West Village kinda way. Aesthetically, it took a strong vision, but the bones and foundation were all that we could have hoped for.
How did you come up with the name for Blue & Black?
Way way back, when we were doing inspiration and design trips for the brand and shop, focused on color palette and vibe, we kept coming back to two key: blue and black. We felt those colors represented a masculine coolness and style, yet they were classic, easy but could also be arty depending on how they were paired. It kept on coming up, sounded cool to us and it just stuck. We also like that its a flip on the typical saying of Black & Blue, a bit of a play on words.
You describe this as an Apothecary, a word not commonly used much in the modern era. Why use that word to describe Blue & Black?
We’re trying to take the word Apothecary and put a fresh, new and modern spin on it, redefine it. Certainly, per tradition, there is a heavy focus on personal care products for hair, face, skin, oral etc. But we’re also trying to expand the concept from everyday items you need for your BODY, but also to everyday items you need for LIFE such as small electronic and gadgets, small fashion accessories like wallets, hardware such as flasks and knives, but also into other weird and wonderful categories like art and literature.. We see this as only the beginning of our cool offering to our even cooler clients…just think of all the possibilities!
What services do you provide? Is it unisex?
We provide classic barbering services including hairs cuts and trims, facial hair and beard services, and also a manly version of a quick facial done right in the chair. We do cut women’s hair, but as our core services offering is simple and stylish, most of our female clients tend to be those looking for shorter or more edgy styles. Don’t get us wrong, were def open to the right lady should she see us as a good fit, but our core target is definitely guys.
Can you describe in detail what a client would get once they enter your establishment?
When you arrive to our shop you will be checked in and offered a drink, and yup Other Half Brewery IPA is the obvious choice. If you’re a bit early, you can hang in out in our waiting area, browse our collection of art books and style mags or check out the latest product in our Apothecary. For those of you desiring a click hole, you can hook into our free wifi and top off your phone with one of our Cheero chargers (yup, we also sell Cheero).
Once in the chair, your Barber will consult you to figure out where you want to go style-wise, but also importantly what your current grooming and styling habits are (or are not), ensuring your direction and habits are a match. Then, its all about relaxing and enjoying ride, with beer of course. For us, the finer details are really important. The subtle fades, natural lines and fine texturing are key the finished look, among a few other shop secrets. At the end of the service, you’ll be offered a rinse and receive a hot towel (more shop secrets hidden here), a truly refreshing experience. After you’re a’ll cleaned up, its about setting with the front desk, but of course you are free to hang out and relax, and have another drink. It’s on us!
How are things price wise, is the entire experience affordable?
Our services range from $15-$42, beard trims at the lower end, full clipper and razor cuts at the higher end. Our price point is somewhere between classic subway tunnel barber and high-end salon. That being said, we feel we are well positioned to be very accessible to the NYC market given the mad skills of our barbers, the fine details of the services and the overall elevated experience and vibe.
I see you serve some really great beer and lager, something I have never seen before at a barber type establishment. Why incorporate this?
We incorporate it because we think beer is just awesome! We love Other Half Brewery and everything they produce; they are a local brewery and are located just a few blocks from the shop and we thieve on the idea being part of the neighborhood just like Other Half. We also think its quite nice to have a drink while your waiting for your barber, during that brief respite from the busy day. For those not as enthusiastic about beer, we also offer seltzer water and Manhattan special coffee soda.
Overall, why do you think people should travel to Blue & Black over their local barber shop?
We feel strongly we’re providing a fresh and really unique experience, both in delivery of services, through our environment and with our product offering. We’re elevated the experience, yet kept it simple, masculine, easy, modern and accessible to all types of guys, form high trend to no trend. Key to our philosophy is avoiding any air of exclusivity and pretense if who we are and what we do. We consider ourselves INCLUSIVE, not exclusive, lord knows there’s enough of that in NYC.
What are your hopes for the future of Blue & Black?
We see a lot of potential in the Brand we are building, both short and long term. Our core competency is surely Barbering complimented by a natural extension into personal care product. We see a lot of natural adjacencies: deeper expansion into retail including our own branded product, additional services offerings tailored to guys needs, perhaps even a foray into mens accessories and fashion. We def see shop 2 or 3 or beyond!
Blue & Black is opened Wednesday through Monday, with both walk-ins and appointments available. For more information, log onto their official site.
Blue & Black
488 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11231