Anyone who steps into Jay Blendz Barbershop on Prospect Street in Amsterdam for the first time will instantly know they’ve found a place with a style and atmosphere that is unique in the area. Anyone reading the shop’s 35 perfect five-star reviews on Facebook will know that owner Jay Saez has the skills and service to match. On Thursday, Saez talked about how he got started in the business and ended up opening his shop just last month in Amsterdam’s Clock Tower building.
Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, Saez recalled that going to the barbershop was “the place to be.” For him, trips to the barbershop were rare opportunities to get a glimpse of the reality of people’s lives in his community.
“I was raised where children would always stay out of grown folks business, no matter what,” said Saez. “In a barber shop, it’s kind of hard to do that. Because you get grown men that go in there, and they get in there and vent. This is where they come to vent. Whether it’s about their wives, kids, their girlfriend. So to sit down and hear these stories was heaven for me. Because I wasn’t allowed to sit in grown folks conversations.”
The idea of a barbershop being a social hub is one that Saez has embraced ever since.
“The barber is more than just a barber. He’s your confidant, he’s your advisor, financial advisor, all kind of things,” said Saez.
Saez recalled giving his first haircut to a friend at age 12.
“I thought it was nice. He didn’t complain, but then again, it’s your friend,” joked Saez.
Later in life, he sharpened his hair cutting skills by completing an eight-month course at Austin’s School of Spa Technology in Albany. Saez said he felt lucky because everyone in his class at Austin’s was willing to “donate their heads” to each other for haircutting practice.
Saez got his first job as a barber at Blessed Brothers barbershop in Amsterdam. He credits the shop for taking a chance on him fresh out of school.
However, Saez eventually left to pursue a vision for a shop of his own. He said that Clock Tower owners Brett McCarthy and Terry Barker were able to custom-build the space and helped achieve the look he had been visualizing.
“I always imagined my barber shop looking exactly the way it is,” he said. “I wanted that New York City feel, I wanted that welcoming feel.”
Although Saez specializes in men’s styles, he said that he’s strived to build a family friendly atmosphere.
“A lot of women compliment the shop and that’s a big deal,” he said. “I want people to come here and feel like home.”
Saez said part of his plan as a business owner is to give back to the community by investing in the youth of the city. He plans on hosting a video game tournament for kids, scheduled for July 8.
“Amsterdam’s been good,” said Saez, “the city took me in and really showed me a lot of love.”
Located on the second floor of the Clock Tower building at 37 Prospect Street, Jay Blendz offers traditional “brush cut” hair cuts, as well as stylish tapers, fades, Mohawks and Afros.
Contact Jay Blendz at (518) 212-5140 or connect via Facebook.