Ricky Kenig (2008)

Shopping & Primping

New Yorker since 1980

Where do you live?
Tribeca. [But] I'm moving to Park Slope.

What are some of your favorite products that Ricky's carries?
Mostly the private-label line I've been doing—I've been taking products that are out there and tweaking the product and the packaging. I try to look at everyday things people use and modify them to make them a little better. On a hair elastic, I added a better rubber and a silk fiber, to make it a little bit softer and more elastic. In the store we carry everything, so how can I say what the favorite thing is? It's pretty much everything we have.

A lot of people think Ricky's is the best beauty supply store in the city. Why do you think that is?
I don't know. I mean, I've been doing this forever. We don't spend a lot of money on advertisements. It's just been word of mouth and working hard. To me it's a way of life, so I don't really look at it as a job. I pretty much think and do it 24-7. I like working on the sales floor, talking to the customers. The way I am in the store, people don't know I'm Ricky. So I'm working on the sales floor, doing stock work, and unless it's a friend of mine, they think I'm just another employee.

Yes, it's weird. I've never seen photos of you.
Well, I'm not in hiding. My brother is a lot more corporate, and then we have a managing partner that's corporate. I've got to stay in the office pretty much half the time now, [but] I'm at the Soho store. I've been here for years.

What do you look like?
I don't know—I'm 44, a little youthful-looking, salt-and-pepper hair, tattooed—I'm sleeved on both arms.

What are your favorite places to shop in the city?
My number one store is probably Union. There's Union, Supreme, No. 9 in Tribeca, and 45 rpm.

What's the most underrated store?
Union. Even though the store's been there for close to 20 years, if I'm wearing an outfit or shirt or a line called Neighborhood, people ask where did I get it. I tell them Union, and I'm surprised some people don't know what the store is. So I have to give them directions. I mean, the store is tiny, maybe 150 square feet. But you know when you go there, whatever they're showing is ahead of its time or current. They're never behind.

Who would be your fantasy shopping date?
I prefer to go by myself. The only thing is, I can't wait for my kids to come back from sleepaway camp. The twins are 12 . . . so taking them shopping is going to be such a great experience now.

Do you have a favorite spa or hairdresser?
There's a couple. I have a great friend who's one of the best colorists in New York, Joel Warren of Warren-Tricomi, and there's another great guy, Rick Peppino—he has a salon in Bryant Hotel. I like them both, but I go to Michael from Mudhoney. He always gives me a mohawk—not a clear mohawk, it's just a little bit touched up. And I'm not saying Joel or Rick aren't capable of doing it, but I don't use them—even though I can get it for free. I pay Michael.

What about spas?
No, I'd prefer to just go away and sit by the ocean. That's a good enough spa for me.

You're having a fantasy dinner—who are three other New Yorkers you'd like to invite?
Usually the people I want to go out with, I do. There's not a lot of other people I really give a shit about going out with. I go out with James Jebbia, the one who started Union and Supreme and was involved in Stüssy. I've been friends with him for a long time. We never talk about business. It's more that we're at the same level and just have normal conversations. There's not a whole lot of people you can have that with as you get older.

Describe a perfect New York day.
Pretty much I do the same thing: Work a full day in the store, go home to watch my kids at the ball field, go out for dinner, watch some TV, and go to sleep. Once you have kids, that's the best you can really do.

What would make New York a better place?
Definitely upgrading the subways. Only in New York do we get the worst/dirtiest service. And pay the most for it.

What's the best thing about New York?
Is there any other place but New York?


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