Ricky Kenig, founder of the venerable NYC beauty institution Ricky’s, quit the company this past December to open up a new beauty concept store called Kenig + Alcone. Unlike Ricky’s, where you can pick up furry fetish handcuffs and a Khaleesi costume along with your high-end blow dryer, Kenig + Alcone will focus solely on hair and makeup.
Kenig, whose self-described specialty is hair, partnered with Alcone, a NYC-based professional makeup distributor, to open the shop on Sixth Avenue and 14th Street. The plan originally was to open several shops at once, but Kenig wanted to get the kinks worked out first. He has plans to open more shops both in and out of New York City. E-commerce will launch in the next several weeks.
But why leave Ricky’s? “The world’s changed. The Internet is a dominant competitor,” Kenig said. “You’ve got to find a new niche. I felt partnering up with Alcone would be great for me.”
The store is minimally decorated—think unfinished plank floors and industrial metal shelving—to the point of almost looking undone. (And honestly, when you’re used to sleek shops like Sephora, the look is actually a bit disconcerting.) “I didn’t feel like I needed to dress things up,” Kenig said. He wants the products to speak for themselves, and this is indeed where the store shines.
The first floor, dedicated solely to hair, features hard-to-find and salon hair brands like Kerastase, Davines and Obliphica. The signature feature, though, is a wall of plastic bins filled with the various specialty bobby pins, hair clips and assorted other doodads for which hair stylists clamor. He originally wanted this section to function like a penny candy store where you just fill up your bag with the items you need, then buy it in bulk, like gummy bears. However, some bobby pins were considerably more expensive than others to produce, so now groups of each type of item are packaged in plain plastic packs. You’re then given a free tin about twice the size of an Altoids box in which to stash all your new goodies. “This concept has been frigging phenomenal,” Kenig said.
Upstairs, it’s a makeup snob’s wonderland. Professional and hard-to-find brands like Kett sit next to niche skin care lines like Indie Lee and Koh Gen Do. Sales assistants will help you try products, and Kenig + Alcone will set up makeup appointments for you if you want a full makeup application. They plan to hire makeup artists on staff to allow for drop-in makeup appointments, and if you purchase fake eyelashes, someone will apply them for you free of charge. The shop will also offer periodic makeup classes and workshops. (The store is partnering with Mudhoney salon to offer hair appointments eventually, too.) A makeup tool wall, complete with free storage boxes, rounds out the upstairs.
Whether Kenig can shake off his Ricky’s roots remains to be seen, but he’s sure determined to try. There wasn't a single box of bachelorette party-ready "pecker straws" to be seen.