Beauty Store Business

NOV 2017

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32 November 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com they couldn't take that. We'd take these trips over to England and bring back something really cool, and next time we went to get the same stuff they'd tell us, 'Your competitor from down the block told us not to sell to you anymore.' [Our competitor] could because he had money, so then we'd get cut off. But the one thing that nobody could take away from us was the beauty products—that was us and that was our market," Tish says. Other punk stores also had reputa- tions for being rude and unapproachable. "We were the only store on the block that was nice to customers. If any of our employees gave attitude to customers we'd reprimand them because it's not who we are or how we are. We treat everybody the same," Snooky says. Selling only the things they person- ally wore and loved, Tish and Snooky grew an avid fan base. When they were forced to hire a doorman to control the fervent crowd, they knew they had tapped into something special. PITFALLS AND PERIL Though the Bellomos' hair colors and store were attracting a lot of attention, it wasn't always positive. "We were tortured, persecuted, ridiculed," Snooky says. "It was not easy in those days. It was really a big statement, a real act of rebellion. We made it safe for people nowadays, but in those days it was really scary." Tish recalls the opening night of the Mudd Club in 1978, when she was trying to hail a cab with friends on Church Street and all of a sudden a bunch of kids from Long Island started punk bashing ("It was a thing back then when people from the suburbs came into Manhattan to [beat up punks]," Snooky says). Tish was yelling for them to stop hitting a man who was on the ground when someone suddenly tapped her and then punched her in the face as soon as she turned around. "I went down like this dying swan and woke up five minutes later to be put in an ambulance," she says. Luckily Tish and Snooky's open- minded mother was supportive, and encouraged her daughters to look how- ever they wanted; but most weren't as accepting. "You should have seen our neighbors. One woman would scream at us, 'There's people coming in and out of the building with green hair! It scares the old people!' It sure did," Tish says. In addition to being judged on their appearance, being business owners pre- sented other challenges. "It was difficult making the rent, being young, having no business experience. Being women, we were not taken seriously at all; and espe- cially being young women in outrageous attire, we were not taken seriously," Snooky says. At the time, St. Mark's Place was a dicey neighborhood riddled with vandals and drug addicts. Despite chasing down shoplifters, Tish says the store had the reputation of being the easiest shop on the block to rip off. They invested all their profits back into inventory, but in '89 lost their lease and were given two weeks to move out. In an act of desperation to keep the company afloat, Tish and Snooky relocated their wholesale business to Snooky's then-boyfriend's third-story studio apartment. "We were doing it all ourselves: packing the orders, taking the orders, rolling the boxes down three flights of stairs and then driving boxes to UPS and shipping them," Snooky says. The original Manic Panic store on St. Mark's Place opened in 1977, and became a hangout spot for bands like The Cramps and Ramones. "It's great that what we've always loved, endorsed and promoted has finally caught on." –Snooky Bellomo Tish and Snooky Bellomo share their go-to High Voltage shades. Snooky's Favs: "My personal favorites at the moment are Purple Haze and Voodoo Blue." Tish's Go-Tos: "I do various colors, but right now, my hair is actually a little purple because I mix Siren's Song and Cotton Candy Pink." Courtesy of Manic Panic

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