J. Colby Smith’s North Williamsburg Staycation: Shopping at Boutiques and a Quick Haircut at Ludlow Blunt

Photos by Brooke Goldman.
Photos by Brooke Goldman.

Sponsored by Chelsea Hotels

Throughout the summer, Brooklyn Magazine is teaming up with the McCarren Hotel & Pool to give local creatives a two-night staycation and show us around some of their favorite spots in the neighborhood. The McCarren Hotel provides an exciting urban retreat with an ideal location overlooking in one of Brooklyn’s most exciting neighborhoods. Featuring a rooftop bar, one of New York City’s largest outdoor swimming pools, pitchers of signature cocktails, and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, ​McCarren Hotel & Pool has something for every traveler, every season.

It should be no surprise that J. Colby Smith, New York’s most sought-after piercer, takes his R&R very seriously. “When we work, we work really hard,” he says while lounging in the lobby of the McCarren Hotel & Pool, talking about he and his girlfriend’s weekend schedules. “I see about 100 to 160 people in the three days I’m working, and it’s a lot of social, anxious energy. So I have to chill pretty hard, too.”

A normal day off for Smith and his girlfriend, Schyler Gately (a manager at the nearby Bird boutique), includes waking up late, taking their rescue Great Dane, Luna, to the dog park, eating at one of Williamsburg’s many vegan restaurants, and shopping. Smith spent eight years living in the East Village, and was hesitant to make the move to Williamsburg–at first. “The main difference between the city and Williamsburg would be that in the city, you’re in the thick of it–everything you need is in a two–block radius. But of course, that also means garbage trucks and everything disgusting too,” he says with a laugh.

“I really wanted to stay in the East Village, that was where I felt like I fit in. When we started looking here, I really resisted. But we wanted the outdoor space, something a little more peaceful. … Our quality of life is totally different. It really feels like a neighborhood here.”


Smith and Gately admit to never really exploring outside their five-ish block radius of their work and Kent Avenue apartment, but are happy to take advantage of a staycation in their neighborhood. “It’s cool to take yourself out of your own comfort zone,” Smith says. “We’re experiencing the neighborhood in a different way, seeing it through a tourist’s eyes. People come here to the city not just to see the city, but to see Williamsburg, to see Dumbo–all have their own draws, in so many ways. New York City has gotten so generic over time, so it’s cool to see so many independent businesses out here.

“New York City is a city for artisans, movers, creators–it’s cool to be a part of that.”


First stop on Smith and Gately’s stroll through the neighborhood: Organic Modernism, where the couple bought a couch, dining table, and plenty more adornments for their apartment. “It always costs me a lot when I come in here,” Colby says with a laugh, reclining in a wingback chair (“it perfectly contours to your body!”). “But you can get good deals here, too.”


Next, a few more blocks to the new location of Gentry, only open for a last month. Lots of perusing the clothing racks, before Smith admits that he mostly wears T-shirts now. “I went from wearing only collared shirts to wearing only T-shirts–it was a crucial change for me,” he says.”


On the way back, we discover a new restaurant/bar/to-go shop/coffee shop/greenhouse, Diviera Drive, a combination that no one could quite believe. Naturally, it was time for an iced coffee pit stop and a quick photo in the boat-themed seats outside.


Next, a haircut at Ludlow Blunt (because nothing is more necessary than a beer with a clean trim).


And then a stop for Gately at Mociun, one of the couple’s favorite jewelry stores. Gately stops to gaze at some of the long dangling necklaces with turoquise at the end, while Smith looks on in support.



And naturally, no staycation is really complete without at least one Bloody Mary at the bar at the McCarren Hotel & Pool.





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