NEW YORK — Carol's Daughter is ready to show off its newest offspring: a store in Harlem.
The hair, skin care and home products brand officially opened its 1,800-square-foot space on 125th Street Thursday night, with three of the brand's main investors, entertainers Jada Pinkett Smith, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and Thalia, in attendance.
The fledgling company got a little help from Carter, who slid behind a cash register. Asked about the price of a product, he replied, "I'm not sure, it's a new system." Carter is now going by the name "Shawn," rather than Jay-Z, because "I'm a big executive now."
The opening hit a festive note when the staff sang "Happy Birthday" for Pinkett Smith. In addition to the investors, well-wishers included Carter's girlfriend, Beyoncé Knowles.
Turning to the question of site selection, the choice of locale for the brand's second store was deliberate, said Steve Stoute, the entertainment mogul who brokered the deal between founder Lisa Price and a constellation of Hollywood heavyweights in May.
"We could have chosen SoHo," said Stoute, "but the history and the heritage of Harlem are very important to us as African-Americans. Harlem was one of the first places to be synonymous with African-American success. Over the last 25 to 30 years, the cachet was lost — but a renaissance started four to five years ago. It's very important that we contribute to making this an even more vibrant retail area."
However, Stoute isn't completely ruling SoHo out. "We may go there next," he said, "but we had to start here."
The Harlem location is designed to exude a homey feeling, including a kitchen space with a butcher-block top, where soap bricks can be cut, and a bathroom vignette, complete with zinc bathtub, which will feature seasonal displays of products. "Both of these were important because they represent two parts of the brand," said Price. "I started making products in my kitchen, and you use most of them in the bathroom." Light-wood floors and display cases, flanked by comfortable sitting areas, create a cozy feel. Fanciful chandeliers round out the mix."Carol's Daughter is treating the Harlem store as Louis Vuitton treats its Fifth Avenue store," said Stoute. "This store represents the vision we're after, and everything we do with our retail partners in the future will be influenced by it." Stoute said the first of several planned retail partners will be announced in the near future, and the brand plans to open a number of its own freestanding stores, including one in Atlanta and one in Washington in 2006.
The Harlem store shares DNA with its Fort Greene, Brooklyn, sister, but Price was particularly excited about one aspect of her new space: "The Brooklyn store grew in a typical entrepreneurial way," she said. "When we had money, we developed different parts of it. With this store, we were able to do things exactly as we wanted from the beginning. This store is Carol's Daughter a little more grown up."
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