How The Blind Barber Became a Successful Bar & Barbershop
A few summers ago in the Hamptons, I met a young man with a great personality and an ability to make everyone have a good time. At the time, he was the general manager at Ella Lounge, a spunky little LES staple that is now (sadly) gone. Now co-owner of another downtown staple, The Blind Barber – a barbershop with a secret bar in the back – Adam Kirsch has grown as a person and as an entrepreneur. In a city that has 10 bars per block, it is no easy feat to stand out, let alone become a brand that is recognized coast to coast. Adam, together with his partners Jeffrey Laub and Josh Boyd, managed to work his way to the top with style, while remaining the same cool guy I once partied with in The Hamptons. Thinking of opening a bar in NYC? I asked him a few questions to help our readers do just that.
You’ve already accomplished a lot at a very young age, to what do you attribute this?
Simply put, hard work. I don’t see myself as someone that has accomplished a lot at a very young age, but instead, as someone that continues to grow everyday and hopefully, I make a positive impact on my staff, customers, and friends. You have to be willing to do any job and when you have the opportunity, take every job seriously. I worked at The Box when it opened in 2007 as a floor host. My position was very low on the totem pole, but I took it very seriously. I constantly met with the General Manager and owners to pick their brains and find out what it took to manage a business. I would email the GM every morning at 5am with my thoughts and questions. He didn’t email me back very often, but I constantly pushed and showed that I am capable of more responsibility.
Was it in your plan from the beginning for BB to become a brand?
From the beginning our plan was to not only to build a location where people could get their haircuts and enjoy a drink, but to build a brand with a feeling that transcended any physical location. We had the grooming products in mind before we even started and or had the ability to create them. The barbershop has a special vibe that makes guys (and some ladies, too!) feel like they are part of a community even in a city as big as NYC. After witnessing this community develop, we knew we wanted to make Blind Barber available to those who couldn’t make it into the shop. The quality of our grooming services and authenticity of our people are top of the line and we get to share that with the world through our products and the events and collaborations we are a part of.
You have some exciting news about where the brand is going. Tell us about that.
We just opened our fourth barbershop in the new Barneys Store in Chelsea (7th Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets). This location is extra special because it is housed in the original Barneys space – it’s a true New York landmark. Our products have been carried by Barneys for years, but we are honored to be have a full barbershop in their location. With this new shop we are able to offer our services to a much broader audience of men, while still maintaining Blind Barber’s essence of good vibes (and good drinks!) A complimentary beverage is offered with every service.
We have a trip to Japan in a couple months to do some more BB pop-ups; our grooming products have been a big hit out there, so we are continuing to explore that market. This year will be very interesting and we have some opportunities on the horizon, but I don’t like talking a big game or about future plans until they are definitely going to happen.
What’s your favorite BB product?
Its a tie: the 90 proof pomade AND the facial cleanser. The 90 proof pomade is our most popular product and perfect for a natural look; It holds your hair in place, but doesn’t make it feel too rigid. I use the facial cleanser twice day and since using it, I have honestly never had better skin. It’s got a nice minty smell that wakes you up in the morning and revitalizes the skin. My fiance is hooked on it too, so it is definitely not just for men!
What are your favorite NYC spots?
My favorite bars are The Garret and Drexlers. But my favorite NYC spots to go to on a consistent basis at this point in my life are Yoga to the People and the Russian Bath House. I also take my fiancée’s Soul Cycle class from time to time to get in an intense workout (she’s been an instructor there for years).
What’s your biggest milestone?
Opening the doors to Blind Barber in 2010. I always wanted to open my own business and this one was a real labor of love. A few months ago we traveled to Japan to host some pop-up BB barbershops and it was amazing, and humbling, to see how in just 5 short years we had made it halfway around the world.
What are successful NYC men looking for in a companion?
I think it really depends on the guy. Most of my friends have companions and they are successful. I think it just comes down to what an individual is looking for in life. However, when you are focused on work and being successful, it can lead to having limited time and that does get in the way of a relationship. You need to make time in your day for your personal life and not be so focused on “success” because a big part of success is being truly happy outside of work.
I have to ask…Whats the most romantic thing you’ve done for your significant other?
I tricked her into coming with me to Soho House on a Friday night to see a movie (there was no movie playing) and then asked her if she wanted to check out one of their hotel rooms because I had never seen one and was thinking of booking one for a business colleague. When we walked into the room, it was covered in roses; she was so surprised that she even wasn’t sure if the set-up was for her or someone else who was checking in! I had set it up during the day with pictures of us, her favorite wine, favorite candies, and other personal items. She was in complete shock and then I got down on one knee and made the best decision of my life.
What’s the best night to go to BB in NY and what do you offer your customers?
I would say Thursday may be the best night to go. It’s not too packed, but has great energy and people are there to have fun. We have so many different types of customers at Blind Barber because our business is so multifaceted. I like to think that we have something for everyone. Ideally, our customers appreciate the work that goes into making their experience easy and relaxed, their services top quality, and most of all that we make NYC feel a little bit smaller. Our ideal customer recognizes that not only are we giving something to them, but they are adding to our community as well.
*The Blind Barber has locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Culvery City, CA. The New York location offers a Happy Hour Monday-Saturday 5-8pm, featuring $7 house cocktails and $4 draft beers.