It’s a low-key Tuesday night at the Tradesman in Bushwick, and Magdalena Ryczko has settled into a booth for a post-work cocktail. Dolce, her tiny pup, surveys the scene from the ground and scurries out from cover when it’s deemed safe, drawing the attention of a neighboring table.
The din of indie rock coming out of the wall speakers serves as a backdrop for the discussion topic: Ideas. Ryczko has plenty of them, and at the moment she’s riffing on themes for a new bar. “I would have comedy or plays or karaoke or performances,” she says. “Or maybe even have new bands and then people would judge them. It would be fun to do something interactive.”
Starting a bar is on the docket, but for now Rycko has plenty to keep her creative juices flowing. She is the owner of Manetamed, a barber shop that’s also an art gallery and houses a used book store in the basement. And she recently opened a second, er, auto-nomous hair cuttery called Hairrari, in Bushwick —all while writing films, building art installations, and writing plays on the side.
YACK: How did you come up with the idea for Manetamed?
Ryczko: I was cutting for five years before in Williamsburg. I wasn’t happy in the last year of my job and I figured it’s time to grow and open my own place, so I found one and rented it. And then one of my friends suggested to have art in there, a curator who has her own gallery, Rox Gallery. She’s the one who started the gallery at Manetamed and curated the first three shows. So I just kept it going. I thought it was a good idea and I could meet a lot of people and show artists.
YACK: What do you think of the art scene right now?
Ryczko: I feel like the art scene needs some movement. I see a lot of art that’s installation or avant garde, but what does it mean? I like to have more of a statement in art. I’m working on an installation for my friend’s gallery — she said I could have one room. That’s really exciting, but I haven’t thought of anything yet to do there. I want to go from zero, from a blank in my mind, so I’m putting that together. I also make movies — comedies — and I’m writing a play that I’ll maybe show at Manetamed.
YACK: How do you have time to do all these things?
Ryczko: I used to only work three days, so that gave me time to do a lot of the film stuff and other stuff. Now, like yesterday I was off and already I got an idea for a play and I started writing it. I have a lot of ideas right now for the entertainment side of things.
Ryczko: It’s fun. It’s exciting to see it change. There are a lot cool businesses that are opening. I feel like any business can make it in this area. I want to open a bar. Something different, with dancing, because there aren’t that many dancing places. I want to open something like Bossa Nova Civic Club. It’s on the DeKalb L stop. The setup is really cool. There’s a garden and a dance floor with strobe lights. I’ve never been to Berlin but I hear they have a really good dance scene there. Hopefully that develops more here. Hopefully there’s more of an artists’ scene that becomes exciting, because I feel like now it’s not exciting.
YACK: Is that possible with the condos and a different crowd coming in?
Ryczko: I feel like the condos are fine because they’re bringing in people who are successful in other ways. They are the ones who support all the businesses. Those people are really nice and cool, even though they have conservative jobs. I don’t like the situation [between] yuppies and hipsters — it’s really stupid, because there are a lot of hipsters that I cut who are cool people, fashionable people, but have conservative jobs. It’s stupid to put people in boxes. I think the condos are great, actually, because new restaurants are giving people jobs, paying for services and stores, supporting everybody. Pretty much everybody in this area goes out every day. It’s perfect.
YACK: What’s your clientele like?
Ryczko: My clients range from conservative business types — not that conservative — but like regular jobs, to artists to musicians to gay, straight, male, female. I cut mostly short hair, so it’s all in that range. But they’re all really nice.
YACK: Has competition for business gotten stronger in the past few years?
Ryczko: No. When I opened up Manetamed, two places opened that were similar in price. We actually have gotten busier; our business has grown. The other places have their own style, and we have our own style. Some people like them; some people like us. There’s enough for everyone. There’s people who charge $30 to $40 for a haircut. There’s people who charge $100. My clients have tried every place and pick the one they like. We charge $35 for men and for women it’s $65 and up.
YACK: Barbers are known for chatting up their clients. Is that something you enjoy?
Ryczko: I love it. You meet 10 new people every day and they’re really cool. Especially guys I feel are better than women. Women, when they come to salons they start complaining about their day while men are more uplifting and more chill. They’re inspiring. Even if they’re having a bad day they’re always like ‘whatever, it’s over’. They give you more energy and women drain my energy [laughs]. It’s true!
Magda’s Neighborhood Recommendations
Favorite bar: Bossa Nova Civic Club
Manetamed 41 Havemeyer Street (Between of N7th and N8th St.), Brooklyn
Hairrari 206 Bushwick Avenue (between Scholes and Meserole), Brooklyn.