“I was at the drugstore to buy refill blades, and ended up having to wait 10 minutes for someone to unlock the case where the razors were held,” says Andy Katz-Mayfield, co-founder of Harry’s. “When I finally checked out with a pack of razor blades and a can of shaving cream, I looked down in my bag and realized that I had just spent over $25 for products that didn’t speak to me as a customer”. For Katz-Mayfield, this didn’t sit well. He walked out of the store, called his friend Jeff Raider and collectively, discussed their shared annoyance. From there, the idea was born and over the next few months, Harry’s came to fruition. Together, they’ve modernized the buying model for men’s grooming products – specifically shaving cream and razors. Recently, they upped the ante and opened up The Corner Shop, a brick and mortar extension of their online entity in Soho. Here, they break it down – one shave at a time.
GrandLife: Your model is an interesting one – can you tell us a little bit about it?
Andy Katz-Mayfield: We’re building a brand on the foundation of strong direct relationships with our customers. Most of our business happens online, and we love the ability to sell directly on our own website and then reach out to our customers afterward to tell them that we’re here for them.
GL: You brought the online market to a brick and mortar location – in New York’s Soho neighborhood. Why did you decide to do this?
Jeff Raider: Well, we wanted to be able to provide people with an amazing in-person experience with the Harry’s brand – a place where we can give them a great cut or shave ourselves and interact with and get to know them in person. We spent a great deal of time trying to find great barbers who can educate our customers on how to take care of themselves, how to use our products and other grooming products and above all provide really exceptional barber services.
GL: Now that you’re in Soho, how do you like the neighborhood?
JR: We love it. We’re in a really special area of Soho that has a true neighborhood feel to it. We’ve gotten to know our neighbors and have given haircuts and shaves to more than a few of them.
GL: How come you chose Soho as a starting point for your brick and mortar locations – what is it about this destination that made sense?
AKM: What we loved (and still love) about our location is that it feels very approachable and welcoming. The street still maintains its quiet charm, which is a nice counterpoint to the bustling streets of central Soho.
GL: You named it The Corner Shop – why?
AKM: We wanted it to be a true neighborhood spot where people feel comfortable hanging out, dropping by, or browsing for something interesting. The spirit and energy of a traditional barbershop is infectious and we wanted to channel that spirit for the modern guy. Plus, it’s on a corner – MacDougal and Houston.
GL: By merging online and offline elements, The Corner Shop will be a new barbershop experience. What can one expect?
AKM: We love the relationship that guys have with their barbers. We also see ourselves as a technology enabled brand, and we were all excited to create a modern barbershop experience that was focused on deepening and improving that timeless relationship that guys have with their barbers. We wanted to use technology to improve the barbershop experience by giving customers the information they need to talk with barbers. By recording each haircut, we can know what our customers want each time they visit through a visual reference. That said, there’s no substitution for a great shave and hair cut, or the direct relationship guys have with barbers, so our focus will always be on keeping our customers well-groomed.
GL: You worked with Partners & Spade and Fort Standard on the space. What reference points did you use?
AKM: It was really important for us to create the atmosphere of a classic barbershop – familiarity, liveliness, a gathering spot – while updating the aesthetic of a barbershop to appeal to the modern man. This concept is reflected throughout the shop. We wanted to keep the design simple, clean and light. Partners & Spade helped us to craft this vision and bring out the character of a classic barbershop through thoughtful design augmented by carefully selected items like refurbished Koken barber chairs, framed headshots of men from a 70s barber style guide, a floor tiled with our H’ logo. Fort Standard contributed to this vision by designing and building fixtures that are purposefully simple and bright to make sure that we kept things clean and modern.
GL: What are your ties to the neighborhood?
JR: Well, I just recently moved to Soho a little before we opened the shop. It’s great because I’m able to drop in to the Corner Shop on the weekends with my family, and meet some of our customers in person.
GL: What has the neighborhood’s response been to Harry’s since you’ve (literally) set up shop?
JR: We couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. Many of our customers live or work nearby, and we actually have customers who will drop in to say hello even though they’re weeks away from their next haircut. They’ve made us feel like we’re truly part of the community.
Harry’s Price List:
Haircut & Shave…………..$60
Appointments available at harrys.com/cornershop or by calling 646-964-5193