As beauty professionals, using effective products and having the ability to direct my clients where to purchase them is all-important. I believe that it's my job to share my knowledge and guide them away from unnecessary or overpriced items (not to mention overly aggressive salespeople). With that in mind, one thing makes this aspect of my job easier: geography. New York is obviously one of the best places on the planet to acquire top-level hair tools and products to help any salon professional or at-home novice feel and look beautiful. Some of these items encompass the latest, chicest brands, while some may represent the best of the old-school "old faithfuls" on today's market.
On my first trip to New York in 1989—to attend an international hair show at the Javits Center—I was exposed to a world of haircare, cutting-edge tools, and out-there, talented hairdressers the likes of which I'd never seen (and in some cases, haven't seen since!). It blew my mind to see so many stylists under one roof, learning and shopping all together. On that trip, following the show but before we left the city, we remembered one item we had neglected to pick up. My friend Anthony assured us, "Don't worry—I know exactly where to go: Ray Beauty Supply!"
Long before Sephora and Ricky's there was Ray—then and now a favorite beauty supply shop for many visiting hairdressers from around the world. I recently visited on of my beauty-supply runs, and took a moment to chat with Mike, a manager at the store.
ANTONIO GONZALEZ: Who initially the company, and how long have you actually been in business?
RAY BEAUTY SUPPLY: Hi! I appreciate that you're taking the time to honor my store! It is a special store indeed... it's owned by the Mastrangelo family. Perry, the father, purchased Ray Beauty from a family named Ray, and has been running it for 50 great years—and hopefully will for 50 more.
I love coming to your store and hearing a Trinidadian accent. It reminds me of home!
Yeah, we do have a Trinidadian working at our store. He's the repairman, cashier and all-around complainer, but we love him and he does a great job!
I find many other beauty supply stores so overpriced. How do you manage to keep your prices fair?
We try to give everyone a fair price while keeping the roof over our heads and paying our employees good wages. In today's world it gets harder and harder, especially with Internet sales, where someone sells from a garage with no overhead—and very little knowledge of the industry, as well. We really aim to keep our customers happy.
What do you offer customers that other, more "glitzy" beauty supplies don't?
Our helpful staff has great knowledge of an industry we all love. We explain things to both the novice and professional the same way, leaving everyone more informed. For example: People tend to buy tools by reviews they read. Now if it turns out they're not satisfied with that tool, then what happens? By working with a knowledgeable supplier, making a purchase becomes easier. We honestly care more about the person then the profit.
Approximately how many different brands do you carry?
We offer over 30 brands hair-care brands and 25 different brands of professional equipment. Plus, we also special-order products and equipment.
In a fast-changing economic climate, can we expect to have Ray in our lives for years to come?
We really hope so. With the state of the economy, though, it is getting harder. We once employed 12 workers; now we're at only five. But we keep the faith.
You are definitely one of the unsung heroes of Manhattan's beauty industry. I sincerely thank you for all these years of top-notch service.
Let me again thank you, and we look forward to seeing you again real soon!