Nackie Karcher is an artist, of sorts. Classically trained in sculpture and photography, she fits beautifully into the creative community that has so seamlessly established itself in Greenpoint, where Karcher resides. But 17 years ago Karcher traded in her emulsion and ceramic in favor of a more unusual, but no less malleable, medium: hair. Karcher is the owner of The Parlour Brooklyn, a hair salon on Greenpoint Avenue and Franklin, and has not only made a name for herself in the neighborhood as a hair extraordinaire, but as a leader in the local business community as well.
The Parlour Brooklyn is nestled in the middle of a strip of new businesses on Greenpoint Avenue between Franklin and West, including In God We Trust, Brouwerij Lane and Paulie Gee’s, though The Parlour largely paved the way for the revitalization of the mostly industrial-turned-commercial block. Karcher opened the salon in April of 2009 after visiting the neighborhood and seeing something unique. Shortly thereafter, she moved into the Garden Spot and became a Greenpointer.
“Greenpoint is a waterfront community and throughout history it’s those communities that have thrived,” Karcher said. “In Greenpoint you can feel it—you can feel the change and it’s not just the space, it’s the people. Every business owner I know has a positive attitude, and we all shop locally. That’s the biggest way to stimulate the economy.”
In spite of the economic downturn, however, The Parlour Brooklyn is enjoying tremendous success. According to Karcher, the salon sees 13 new clients per week on average, sometimes climbing to 19. “This time last year I didn’t know how to survive. This year is crazy!” It’s really no surprise: Karcher prides herself on creating a friendly, open and comfortable environment for clients and patrons in order to form real and lasting relationships with them.
“I consider us a service-driven salon,” Karcher explained. “You come in and we’ll offer you an espresso, tea, a glass of wine, you’ll have a consultation, a nice shampoo. If it’s not the right fit we’ll even refer you to another salon. The community stuff is really important to us.”
In fact, there probably isn’t anyone in Greenpoint who’s more in the know than Nackie Karcher: After all, a trip to the salon is all about chit-chat and neighborhood gossip. Karcher listens carefully, and channels her knowledge of pressing community issues into her leadership role in the Greenpoint Business Alliance, where she works with other local business owners towards establishing a successful and bustling commercial corridor. Throughout her tenure in the neighborhood, Karcher has formed close relationships with other North Brooklyn entrepreneurs to plan events and collaboratively bolster business.
“The GBA can really become a voice for the community,” Karcher said. “Owning a salon is like being a politician without being a politician: you hear everything about what’s going on in the community. New businesses, changes happening—you learn how to fit in and be a part of those changes. And people in Greenpoint are incredibly resourceful and community-oriented.”
But Karcher wasn’t always so business-minded. The Parlour Brooklyn is her first entrepreneurial venture, but Karcher is no stranger to the art of hair styling. Born and raised in Florida, Karcher enrolled in art school only to find herself bored and unmotivated: she wanted something more hands-on. She started working at a hair salon at the age of 18 and the rest is, basically, history. Karcher left art school and went to hair school instead. She worked in South Beach as a freelance hair and makeup artist, traveling to New York City every summer until 2004, when she permanently made the move. Karcher landed a job at Suite 303, a salon inside the Chelsea Hotel where she rose up the ranks until she found herself working alongside the owner, at which point she knew it was time to do something new: start a salon of her own.
“Hair is art for me. When I’m cutting men’s hair I don’t use a comb, I use scissors. It’s like sculpting,” Karcher said. “The texture of hair fascinates me—the shape and form. I can see a haircut within a haircut. But it’s hard to be a boss. It’s like giving birth to a child: This is my baby. But it’s also like jumping off a cliff: You do it and you land on your feet, and you just want to do it again.”
And do it again she will. Karcher is considering opening a second shop in North Brooklyn, and is constantly making improvements to The Parlour, including a new web feature that will allow clients to book appointments online; twice monthly specialty classes for established hair stylists; even hosting a barber in the salon on occasion.
The Parlour Brooklyn
72 Greenpoint Avenue