• About: Jeff Laub of Blind Barber


    Founded on the idea that guys need a cool place to kick back and hang out, Blind Barber was originally intended to be another Manhattan speakeasy. But under the eye of co-founder Jeff Laub and his partners Josh Boyd and Adam Kirsch, it turned into something much more. Now with three locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles, Jeff and co. have created spaces for guys to look sharp, feel sharp, and stay sharp, blending the traditional barber shop with an extended grooming product line and speakeasy-style bars and cafés. We stopped into the original Blind Barber location in the East Village to chat with Jeff about how the shop came to be, what his grooming regimen consists of, and which of his favorite NYC joints he finds himself at when not at Blind Barber.
    Photos by Matt Rubin

     
    So what's the history behind Blind Barber?
    It's a long story. I had planned from probably before 8th grade to be a lawyer. That’s what I said when they would ask ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ That’s such a bullsh#t question… it should be ‘What 18 different things do you think you’ll be interested in when you’re 30 years old?’ So I had always been told that I’d be a phenomenal lawyer from people watching shows and never having worked in the field. But that was my plan up until about five years ago. In 2009 I was working in a law firm that I hated. I was working as a legal assistant, a tier below the lawyers, at the number one law firm in the world. I was at the pinnacle of something that I planned for so long. I remember being in a meeting when the financial crisis happened, with every world bank sitting there, with the White House on a conference call, and I just hated every second of it… it wasn’t for me, wasn’t what I was interested in… I didn’t feel good, I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself. I went to NYU, I had a plan, and my plan sucked. So what now?!

    I used to work odd jobs at cool salons with my Mom, who would manage the salons. When I went to NYU that’s what I knew, so I would get part time jobs doing that. I realized people are making good money at this, if they really dived in and did it well. I knew with my attitude and rapport with the customers, if I really dedicated and educated myself, I could do it. So I did law from 9am to 5pm and then I enrolled in Aveda cosmetology school and was going there from 5pm to 9pm. Aveda was probably more detailed and strenuous than any other education, just in terms of punctuality. It was a nice introduction to learn what it took to be a cosmetologist, what it took to be a service professional.


    I went to Aveda when I realized my first path of being a lawyer wasn’t going to happen. But I realized very quickly that that wasn’t what I wanted to do either… even touching hair grossed me out! Honest to God, I threw a temper tantrum. I literally threw a round brush on the ground while I was sectioning hair and walked out (laughs). I went back because I hadn’t had the plan yet and then one day I was talking to my Granddad and told him I’m going to be cutting hair and he said, "My favorite place to hang out is the barber shop."

    And it was that simple sentence… I was like that’s what I want. That’s what I liked about the salons, it wasn’t cutting hair, it was walking in, hearing some gossip, a bunch of babes walking in, flirting with them a bit, going to lunch, seeing people and most importantly, every single person walking out felt great. So I really wanted to harness that feeling and produce it for my friends, the way we would want it. So every day after cosmetology school I went back to my desk and spent an hour writing the plan; a friend helped me with an inspiration deck and I called businesses to write a business plan and got numbers from bars and salons, then I added in my view, my story, my passion.


    I found out that Josh Boyd, who owned Plan B, Gallery Bar, and Ella was selling his first bar Plan B across from Tompkins Square Park in lower Manhattan, and I had no money—like zero dollars… but I had this finished business plan that I spent a year and a half writing. I didn’t think Josh really wanted to part with it because it was his first bar that set his life in motion, so I told him I’d buy it from him with this great idea that we could be open basically 24 hours a day; I could run the salon portion and you guys teach me your bar section and we’ll work it out. The name caught his attention and I think he felt my excitement towards it. The only hurdle after getting Josh to agree to the idea was me confessing that I lied about having any money (laughs). I had to hustle my way into a partnership, I just told him I’d wash windows and earn my way…and I did.

    And once Josh saw the people coming around, all his homies, the neighbors coming by, we all felt it. We were building another neighborhood staple. And that was the key, Blind Barber started out as an idea that I had written on a piece of paper, but it really only became what it is today and will be come tomorrow due to the crazy talented partners, employees, friends, and customers that are constantly providing Blind Barber with inspiration.

     
    Can you talk about your three locations and what they offer?
    Each location definitely feels like a Blind Barber and each location always has a barber shop. The main differences are: East Village is only a bar, Los Angeles has an amazing cocktail program and a killer Grilled Cheese Menu created by our chef Ted Hirsh, and Brooklyn operates as a cafe in the morning and then transitions to a low key cocktail bar at night.

    When you manage to find some free time away from work, what do you find yourself doing?
    Sitting at the dog park with my babe and my pup.

     
    What is your grooming regimen like?
    I take a quick shower using Blind Barber Shampoo/Bodywash and Conditioner. Then a small beard trim using clippers if needed, followed by a little 60 Proof Blind Barber Wax to keep my hair in place. I'm super simple when it comes to that kind of stuff. There aren't many products in my repertoire.
     
    If a guy had to start doing one type of daily "grooming activity," what would you recommend it be?
    Wash your man parts (really get in there).
     
    What kind of hairstyles do you see people getting more of so far this summer?
    It's hot outside—so shorter seems to be the go-to. Something like Taylor Kitsch in True Detective. (Check out this cut by our buddy Ross Parlane.)

     
    If you could give guys a piece of advice, what would it be?
    Just in general? Never fry bacon naked.
     
    What about advice for entrepreneurs in general?
    Whatever you decide to do, obsess over it. Never stop learning and be confident in your decisions. Do it for yourself first and then share with the world.


    Jeff's Top 5 New York City Hotspots

    1. The Bench outside of Blind Barber in East Village  
    Hands down the best place to just sit and people watch. We're right across the street form Tompkins Sq park and next to a bunch of cool, local businesses so the foot traffic is incredible and there is a lot of action happening on 10th street.

    2. Montana's Trailhouse
    Great restaurant in Bushwick with an awesome staff. The food is tasty, drinks are done right, and they have a nice outdoor area to kick it. They always make you feel at home.

    3. Rockaway Beach  
    It's beach season so any chance I get to escape the city I take it, and Rockaway is super convenient. Plus, you have Rippers there which is a good spot to "re-hydrate" should you want to take a break from the waves.

    4. Okonomi
    Best ramen ever. Seriously.

    5. Hudson Clearwater Restaurant
    This West Village spot has been and will forever be my go-to dinner spot.  The food is always incredible, you'll always run in to some friends and the atmosphere is so cool that you end up hanging for hours. 

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