Ruben Aronov spent 10 years at Freemans Sporting Club Barbershop, the Americana-themed shop that operated alongside a men’s wear store and a restaurant. In its heyday, F.S.C. Barber was the personification of a certain dandy meets hipster New York aesthetic, but in 2013 its owners split, Aronov stayed with Freemans and become a partner but decided to start his own thing last November.
His own thing is Matter of Instinct, or Moi, which means “me” in French and “mine” in Russian. Aronov, who is Russian and moved to the U.S. as a child, helped manage and start F.S.C. Barber, and wanted to create an environment that’s less performative and more welcoming.
“I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome here,” Aronov said. “I don’t want to live off of hype. I want this to be a lifestyle where clients can hang and get to know each other and the more time you spend here the more it feels like your home, hence the name Moi.”
Moi, which is located at 122 Orchard Street, is more spacious than Freemans and decorated with original Belmont chairs from the Fifties and features stations made from 200-year-old reclaimed spruce and pine. The retail area in the front of the shop carries grooming products from brands including Malin and Goetz, Baxter of California, Marvis toothpaste and Mr. Natty. Aronov also has an open space in the basement that he might use as an art gallery or a speakeasy.
Aronov said the larger space, which is outfitted with a bigger wash sink, also lends itself to more services and lounge areas. Aronav will offer coloring services via Marshall Almeida. He’s also brought with him Joey Tasca, one of the three original barbers at Freemans, along with Mark Miguez, Greg Dasaro, Josh Livingston and Boris Isakov.
It’s a homecoming of sorts, and Aronov is hoping to foster a space that feels more like a friend’s apartment.
“I want guys to be able to go to the fridge and get a beer or a coffee without asking,” Aronov said. “The other day this guy came in and after I cut his hair he needed a place to hang out before dinner and I thought wow, this is what I want Moi to be.”