I first had the idea decades ago, because I used to go to Chinatown to get my hair washed and blown out. There's something transformative about a blow dry—you walk in one way and you walk out feeling a million times better. It's something that Asian women have been doing for decades. It was probably about $14 for a wash and blowout in Chinatown and I thought: I need to take this idea wide. But at the time, I had a steady job and then Dry Bar came along. Still, I always had the idea and over time it evolved—instead of just a straight-up blow dry bar, I wanted to create a curated beauty and wellness experience, which is what Primp is now. In 2018, I had left the music business and taken a good amount of time off. It was time for me to do something new and I thought: Let’s pursue my dream.
The Inside Story of Primp NYC
After years in corporate communications at Universal Music Group, FiDi resident Maria Ho-Burge decided it was time to fulfill a long-standing dream of opening her own salon. For this downtown-loving mom of two, there was only one place to do just that—right here in the Seaport District.
Primp NYC opened on the corner of Beekman and Front Streets in early 2019, offering blowouts, cut and color, makeup, brows and lash extensions—with more services on the way. Owner Maria Ho-Burge shares the story behind the business.
How did the idea of Primp come about?
Why did you open Primp in the Seaport District?
This is where I live. My kids go to school here. I'm really invested in this neighborhood—I even have an Instagram account called FiDi.Living. I loved how it felt like I was on the cusp of something new when I first moved down here from the Gramercy area in 2005. At the time, there was barely anybody around after five o’clock and on weekends. I love how the area has gone from that to what it is now—a vibrant neighborhood full of people of all ages, running the gamut in a demographic sense. Now you see strollers and people walking dogs, people everywhere.
Tell us about the space at Primp.
I wanted it to feel like you're at your stylish friend's apartment. I've gone to so many blow-dry places where it feels like a factory; there’s no place to sit, you’re in, you're out. I wanted to create a place where people could feel relaxed. Where maybe they’ll get their brows or makeup done while they're waiting for their blowout. We're kid-friendly and dog-friendly. I wanted it to be a comfortable neighborhood spot—with a sense of accessible luxury.
Did you utilize any of your music-industry experience in creating Primp?
Working in the music industry helped me hone what I liked and didn’t like, what worked. We would do a lot of events—events in white spaces—and I learned how furniture can transform a room, and how that dictates the mood of an event.
When I first came into this space, it was dark and I knew I wanted to open it all the way up. I love white—there's a peaceful feeling when you come into a space that's almost all white. We have a pink couch and a painting on the back wall that I commissioned. Those are our signature pieces. It was important to me that the painting was of a multiracial woman, and I wanted her hair to be made of flowers. The idea being that it could be anyone, as opposed to the painting saying, “This is what your hair should look like.” It’s by an anonymous local artist. (Not me!)
I think it’s important to support the local community. We carry The Good Home Co. room sprays—they’re right here in the Seaport. Our logo was designed by a local company across the street. The sunglasses we sell are from RVS, which is owned by the father of one of my children’s friends. And the candles in the boutique were hand-poured in a kitchen down the road on Front Street. Whenever I walk down the street, I see four or five people that I know—I love that this area is so neighborhoody.