Whisker and reward: Bensonhurst shaving company on the grow

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A Bensonhurst business is bringing back a lost art.

The New York Shaving Company makes hand-blended shaving soaps and colognes, classic safety razors, and high-end lather brushes from a storefront on 20th Avenue in Bensonhurst and operates two shave parlors in Manhattan. Despite the parlors’ location across the river, the service is totally Old Brooklyn, according to one of the company’s founders.

“It goes back to the days that dapper guys sought out a close shave in a more masculine environment,” said John Scala.

Scala and his wife started the company in 2008 on a wing and a prayer.

“We sold my engagement ring for the last $10,000 to open,” said Kim Scala. “I did it because I knew this was his life-long dream.”

Six years later, the company has three stores, employs about 10 people, and is getting some tall orders.

In a major first for the business, mail-order grooming-goods supplier Birchbox placed an order for 5,000 shaving kits that the husband-and-wife team just filled on July 2, Kim said.

“It’s really exciting, we’ve never been in a program like that,” she said.

The company started out of the couple’s Bensonhurst home, but they quickly found they needed a dedicated space, so they leased a corner shop on 20th Avenue and 73rd Street down the street from their home.

Now the pair owns two parlors in Manhattan that offer tonsorial services — a fancy word for an even fancier shave — as well as shaving instruction and razor sharpening. With decor that looks like it was lifted from the set of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and barbers who look like they might be named Sal or Mack, these parlors are the real deal. And the guy shearing your stubble is guaranteed to be a master barber — a designation only attainable after 1,500 hours of school and an 18-month apprenticeship — and John said he only hires masters with at least a decade of experience.

“It’s a 200-year-old craft — its something that you cant pick up over night,” he said.

The company may even open a parlor on Brooklyn’s trendy shores — most likely in Park Slope or Prospect Heights, because the demographics could support the niche operation, John said.

Kim said she’s fine with reinvesting in expansion rather getting another ring, because she’s confident Jon will replace it one day — with one little caveat.

“It has to be worth double,” she joked.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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