Goodbye Beautiful: Celebrity stylist ditches Williamsburg
Owner of Hello Beautiful moves her business to Bushwick
Rebecca Faye wants to make you look good — she’s just tired of doing it in Williamsburg.
After 20 years in the neighborhood, Faye is packing up her beauty salon, Hello Beautiful, and heading east to Bushwick.
Hello Beautiful, as Faye puts it, is “your one-stop shop to get totally glammed out.” Services range from hair coloring to manicures to teeth bling. “We put diamonds on the tooth,” she explained. “We can do a money sign or a little pot leaf.”
Maximalism is the driving theme at the salon’s current location, right off the Metropolitan Avenue stop. “We do a lot of fantasy hair, crazy colors,” said Faye, whose client list includes the rainbow-haired rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine and actress Vanessa Hudgens. “I like making people look good — it makes them feel good.”
The fantasy atmosphere extends not only to the retail — sparkly leggings and six-inch platform heels à la House of La Rue — but also to the decor: pout-shaped landlines, pink neon lighting and pillows embroidered with pantsless cowboys embracing.
“Some people say it’s like a Tim Burton set. Other people say it reminds them of Patricia Field,” said Faye, who worked as a stylist for the famous costume designer in the ’90s.
The salon has been on Metropolitan Avenue for three years. Before that, it was a Bedford Avenue staple, known for a service menu that favors punk and pin-up styles and beloved for its one-of-a-kind decor.
“I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than lost … behind every high-rise in the world.”
“A lot of it’s vintage; some things I find on the street,” Faye said, referring her design style. “It’ll just be an image I made up in a dream and I’ll have a graffiti artist paint it. Whatever my brain tells me. When I had the other place, I built it up to a ‘look,’ and everyone was in love with it, so when we were moving after 16 years, everyone just wanted to know ‘What’s it gonna look like?’”
When Faye first set up shop on Bedford in 1999, the retail scene in the neighborhood was almost nonexistent. “It was all artists and hardly any stores,” she said. “I remember my dad saying ‘I think you’re crazy! There’s nothing here.’ And I said, ‘No, Dad — the people are here.’”
Now, she says, it’s the reverse: not enough artists, too many stores. She gave up her Bedford Avenue location in the back of The Mini Mall in 2016, figuring that she could pay the same or even less for her own storefront on a different street.
Barely three years later, she is moving again — and this time she’s leaving the neighborhood entirely. “To me,” Faye said, “Bushwick is like how Williamsburg used to be: the cool people, the artists, the gritty people.”
She lists the mega-businesses that have moved in over the last few years on her fingers: “T-Mobile, Whole Foods, Apple, Sephora — granted, we all love those places, it’s not like we don’t need them. But when you’re a small business owner, you’re like, ‘Ooh, shit’s getting real now.’ You know you’re getting kicked out.”
Joe Amrhein, who moved his Williamsburg gallery to the Lower East Side about the same time Faye moved from Bedford to Metropolitan, cited the “doughnut effect” of development on the Williamsburg artist community as his main reason for leaving.
Both Amrhein and Faye opened up shop in what they see as a Williamsburg different from today — what Amrhein called “raw” and Faye referred to as full of art and grit.
They join a growing number of business owners leaving the neighborhood. A walk down Bedford Avenue, where Faye opened her first business, shows shuttered storefront after shuttered storefront.
I call this one “empty storefronts on Bedford Avenue” pic.twitter.com/BUYuTnBsgG
— sara (@sarabosworth) March 20, 2019
The City Council is considering a number of bills targeting “high-rent blight,” the cyclical predicament of corridors like Bedford where tenants driven out by high rent are not replaced, and the space remains empty.
As of last fall, the segment of Bedford Avenue between Grand Street and North 12th Street was tied with Downtown’s Fulton Mall as the most expensive commercial corridor for ground-floor retail in the borough.
The median asking rent for one square foot of retail space on the street is $350 per year, the Eagle’s Lore Croghan reported in October, with asking prices going up to $600 a square foot per year.
“Who even makes that much money?” said Faye, shaking her head.
The stylist plans to have her Bushwick location up and running later this spring, decor and all.
“I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than lost … behind every high-rise in the world,” she said. “I don’t like it here anymore. I just don’t.”
Follow reporter Sara Bosworth on Twitter.
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