Pucker up New York City, a new SoHo makeup bar, Pucker, has made its debut in February to rave reviews, and the Long Island Beauty Lookbook Examiner was treated to a tour, makeover and an exclusive interview on Monday with co-founders Hiyam McKelvey and Julio Sandino.
The makeup bar is certain to be the next big beauty trend to follow in the footsteps of the blow-dry bars. Pucker co-founders McKelvey and Sandino have put their beauty expertise together to ensure every beauty and comfort detail is at the disposal of guests that visit the SoHo location.
Earlier in February, Pucker, a makeup-only studio in SoHo, opened its doors to fill the void created by awkward/pushy department store makeup counters and hefty at-home makeup sessions. Pucker is the collaboration between renowned makeup artist, Julio Sandino and business-and beauty-savvy mom, Hiyam McKelvey.
As we toured the makeup bar, Hiyam, Co-Founder and CEO of Pucker, and Julio Sandino, Pucker Co-Founder and Creative Director, answered a few questions about this new beauty venture located at 129 Grand Street in New York City. The open and airy space emits the aura of your “cool friend’s” New York townhouse where everyone loves to hangout; the exact vibe Hiyam, was hoping to achieve.
LIBLE: How long was the process to open Pucker?
Hiyam: A mutual friend introduced Julio and me when I needed to have my makeup done for an event. When he did my makeup for the first time, I had never felt so beautiful or confident. I knew that I had to bring that transformative feeling to as many women as possible, and that’s where the idea of Pucker was born.
We got it off the ground really quickly. My husband is an entrepreneur. He’s the founder of WeWork, a month-to-month shared office community. We went to him and told him about the idea, and he loved it.
All Pucker makeup applications are professional, affordable and personalized, for busy women at an accessible price point. There is never pressure to buy, in fact, Pucker has its own line of makeup, designed by Julio and Hiyam, for its artists to use, but only lipsticks are available for sale, upon request. Additionally, as club goers of the ‘90s, the owners of Pucker aptly named lip pencils after popular New York City hot spots and offer amenities for ladies heading out for a night on the town.
LIBLE: What do you find is the busiest time of Day?
Hiyam: Early evening, especially Saturday night. Girls want to go out! They come in for our Happy Hour every Friday and Saturday, and we’ve had a very good response to that. They have cocktails, get made up and go out.
Julio: It’s like the pre-party. The guys hang out and drink cocktails while the girls have their makeup done, and then they all head into the selfie studio.
The makeup stations are clean and clutter less, as per Hiyam’s direction and according to international makeup artist Julio Sandino; the drawers were crafted like jewelry boxes. The lounge area is just off to the side where guests can wait and enjoy a cocktail. The area is also ideal for girls’ makeup parties, bridal parties and mitzvahs.
LIBLE: Would you do makeup parties for the kids in the city?
Hiyam: Sure, why not! We’ve had mothers bring in their tweens and ask about it. We’ve had lots of parties here. We wanted it to feel like a lounge, like you were getting ready at your cool girlfriend’s house.
Julio: And mitzvahs - a dream come true for the girls.
There is nothing I love more than transforming a woman through the power of makeup. And I don’t just mean the way she looks in the mirror, I mean the more subtle things, like the way she stands up straighter, holds her head higher, and adds a little sway to her step. That’s what I want for every woman who comes through the doors of Pucker.
The lower level boasts a luxurious shower after a workout, lockers to store belongings, hair stations (with high-end hair care products) and a private dressing room for ladies to use before they head out.
With six Pucker Looks to choose from, Lauren M. Knuckles, professional makeup artist and Pucker employee, gave the Long Island Beauty Lookbook Examiner the Talent & Performance makeup application; a daytime smoky eye look. Her attention to detail created nearly flawless eyes, all created with Pucker’s exclusive signature makeup line, which features over 50 different lipsticks, glosses and treatments, twelve foundation shades in three different formulas, three BB creams and 35 eye shadows.
While there is never any pressure to buy, all lip products are available for purchase. In addition, women are invited to bring their own makeup to the studio for artists to use.Makeup services are available in Pucker or the pros could come to you. The cool and comfortable atmosphere is ideal for bridal parties or Sweet 16s. And don’t forget to top off you hot new look with sexy eyelashes made of all natural European hair to make you look extra fabulous.
What’s more, if a guest stores personal belongings in the locker room, Pucker will messenger them to home or office the next day -no more schlepping your gym bag to that cocktail party. Last, but not least, a selfie station equipped with fashion lighting allows women to snap and share their looks instantly.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Hiyam McKelvey held positions at several investment banks before spending 11 years at Lehman Brothers. Shortly after she made the jump to Barclays, Hiyam decided to stay at home full-time to raise her son, born in 2010. Like many busy moms, she found it hard to make time for herself, and when she did, she wanted to make the most of it. Always passionate about fashion and design, makeup became a natural next step towards self- expression.
Julio Sandino began his career as a makeup artist in the 1990s as an assistant to the legendary Francois Nars and for fifteen years, he was a member of the NARS artistry and training team, He has honed his talent backstage at high-profile runway shows, on editorial photo shoots, for international advertising campaigns and worked with designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, and Marchesa, to name just a few. He has created looks for some of the industry’s top models, which include Naomi Campbell, Carolyn Murphy, Alek Wek and Erin O’Connor.
No detail of the Pucker experience has been overlooked. The décor to the makeup capes the Pucker clients wear during services were designed by Sandro Masmanidi of “Project Runway” fame, in a luxe fabric and chic mauve colorway that fits with Pucker’s aesthetic and is flattering on all skin tones.
To reinforce Pucker’s commitment to giving all women access to incredible makeup services, all Pucker sessions will be $50, including those with Julio Sandino. While all looks are completely customized to best complement every guest’s unique features, Julio and his team have created a Pucker “Look Menu” as a guide. Pucker makeup artists are truly in love with the art of makeup. They have spent years perfecting their abilities, and nothing makes them happier than creating an amazing Pucker Look to make women feel beautiful.
To further underscore Pucker’s mission of empowering women, two percent of all Pucker sales will be donated to female-empowerment charities. The two percent will be split between The Global Fund for Women, a publicly supported, nonprofit grant making foundation that advances women’s human rights by funding women-led organizations worldwide; and The Grace Institute, which provides low-income and unemployed women in New York with the training and job placement they need to become economically self-sufficient.
The co-founders of Pucker hope to expand with a location on Long Island. For additional information or to book an appointment, visit Pucker.
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