By  on October 26, 2007

After opening locations in New York, San Jose, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz., Lather has returned home.

The beauty brand officially unveiled a new 1,900-square-foot flagship in Pasadena, Calif., this month, only a few blocks from the spot it initially planted its roots in the city's bustling shopping district in 1999. In the intervening years, competition in the natural beauty sector has ballooned, but husband-and-wife co-owners Emilie Davidson Hoyt and Rob Hoyt's resolve that quality ingredients appeal to a wide audience hasn't wavered.

"We needed to produce unisex products that could be geared to the mainstream," said Davidson Hoyt, explaining Lather's early rationale. "It didn't have to be a niche product. It didn't have to be a hobby of theirs [customers.] These were everyday products that could replace their other products."

With natural products still a sliver of the marketplace at Lather's inception, knowledgeable store personnel were critical to explain ingredient benefits. Relationships between personnel and customers engendered loyalty — Hoyt gathered the rate of repeat business is around 40 percent — but, as Lather's popularity mounted, it became obvious that it would take an inordinate number of employees to speak to every shopper who walked through the door.

"Where we chose to focus and improve in this store was communicating with customers in other ways than through sales associates," said Davidson Hoyt. "When the store was busy, customers might have gotten overwhelmed. There are a lot of products, a lot of ingredients."

Lather decided to relay messages in the new store with visual indicators. Although the products had been color-coded before (for example, blue is for body products and orange is for face products,) shoppers might have been confused about what the colors meant. With help from Pasadena-based design firm The Retail Element, signs were placed on the walls above shelves to signal which category a customer is browsing.

One portion of the wall, referred to by Davidson Hoyt as the branding wall, has Lather's slogan — "It's what's inside that counts" — overlaid on a weaved, white covering. Below the slogan are boxes with raw ingredients such as honey and lavender that the products contain. The boxes are stocked according to what fresh contents Lather opts to highlight at the moment.

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