A New York City brow bar is celebrating 13 years in business despite a temporary shutdown due to the pandemic.
Malynda Vigliotti has always been obsessed with beauty. She worked at the Macy’s in Herald Square at their cosmetics counter and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in their cosmetic and fragrance department.
Vigliotti later went back to school to get her esthetician license.
“In my 30s, I went back to become an esthetician. I was in beauty school with the kids, it was so fun,” said Vigliotti. “When I was in beauty school, the esthetician program is facials, waxing, and makeup, and as it turned out I loved waxing. It was in beauty school that I understood why everyone messed up brows. I never could figure it out, brows are tricky. I thought, ‘When I get out, I’m opening a brow bar.'”
In 2008, Vigliotti did just that and opened Boom Boom Brow Bar, offering several waxing and tinting services. Named after a childhood nickname in her family, Boom Boom opened right in the middle of the 2008 economic recession, and Vigliotti was initially worried about staying afloat during that time.
“It was like one of those things where I was like, Oh my gosh this is a crisis, how am I going to do this? When opening a business in New York City, thought it would be busy first day,” said Vigliotti. “Truth be told, New Yorkers have tunnel vision in going where they’re going and going to that place. It was completely nerve-wracking.”
However, things really started to pick up for Boom Boom in 2011. One of Vigliotti’s customers who lived across the street from the store’s 7th Avenue location worked for the New York Times and asked if she could write something up about the brow bar.
“I thought it was going to be a blurb, but it ended up being 3/4 of a page in the Sunday Times. At that point, business literally boomed,” said Vigliotti. “It was complete insanity. It’s like when that press moved the mark. That Sunday, people were standing with the Times in hand around the corner. I was understaffed and overwhelmed, but it was so exciting.”
As the business continued to grow, Boom Boom was caring for around 500 eyebrows a week and was able to move to a bigger space on Greenwich Avenue. However, in March 2020 Boom Boom suffered the same fate as many other businesses in New York City and closed its doors on March 15.
“It was kind of like it took me by surprise. I was thinking, is this really happening?” said Vigliotti. “In good faith, I had to close my doors. It was heartbreaking.”
Vigliotti says that the struggles she faced with Boom Boom during the pandemic made her question if the shop was going to be able to stay open. Though Boom Boom was able to secure PPP loans, the store was competing with other businesses in the area like Shake Shack.
However, it was important to Vigliotti that if she could, she would keep the business going in New York City where it was first created.
“It was a hope and a prayer. At a certain point I was wondering, is the business going to fail?” said Vigliotti. “When I am able to come back, if I can afford to stay, I am staying for commitment for the love of NYC. I was paying employees and not paying myself — I just want to be a part of the resurgence of New York City.”
With restrictions starting to ease, Boom Boom was able to reopen for business on July 6 with new protocols in place. Every employee is masked up and their workspaces are socially distanced from each other. Vigliotti prides the shop on being very clean for years prior to the pandemic, and will be continuing these protocols even after the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over.
“When you go to beauty school, 50% of the course is disinfecting and sanitation. One thing I’m proud of is that we’ve been really clean— we never double-dip in wax and use hand sanitizer, the only thing we had to adjust was social distancing and wearing a mask,” said Vigliotti. “I can’t believe we didn’t do that before. After it ends, we’re still [wearing masks]. We didn’t get COVID, we didn’t get sick. It’s working.”
Boom Boom recently celebrated 13 years in business on April 1, 2021. Though Vigliotti would have loved to celebrate Lucky 13 with a huge Boom Boom-style blowout, she is happy that the store can still have a part in Manhattan’s community and has high hopes for the future.
“All in all, this is singlehandedly my biggest accomplishment to be New Yorker, a small business owner, a woman, and to have done this on my own. It’s super exciting and I’m so proud,” said Vigliotti. “Throughout all of these years, we have been a part of the community, it’s such a great thing to be a part of.”
As for what the future holds for Boom Boom, the brow bar is launching a new house-made eye product line, which Vigliotti developed while in quarantine.
“I was not working for the first time since 16, so I really started to develop my own brow product line,” said Vigliotti. “It’s a clean, non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free brow line. It got me thinking about personal health issues and how important health and wellness are right now.”
With the launch of the new brow line and the celebration of 13 years in business, Vigliotti hopes that New Yorkers can see how important it can be to take care of their eyebrows even during the pandemic.
“We’re wearing masks indefinitely, so the eyes are all we see,” said Vigliotti. “Without being able to register a smile, brows are the only other feature on our face to convey an expression. Being able to create beautiful brows with clean products is just better for everyone and the right thing to do!”
Boom Boom Brow Bar is located at 30 Greenwich Avenue. For more information, visit www.boomboombrowbar.com.