By  on October 14, 2010

The queen ofindie beauty retailing has passed her crown.

Robin Coe-Hutshing, who founded Studio BeautyMix at Fred Segal with her sister Jennifer Coe-Bakewell in 1984, has sold the 4,000-square-foot store in Santa Monica, Calif., that incubated such brands as Stila and Hard Candy to Sandow Media-owned NewBeauty to become the physical representation of the pages of the beauty magazine. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although industry sources pegged it at less than $5 million. The volume of the store has been estimated at $3 million annually.

“We love the heritage of what Robin started, the uniqueness of the space and the organic feel of everything that surrounds all things Fred Segal,” said Steffanie Attenberg, publisher of Boca Raton, Fla.-based NewBeauty. “Not only do we want to change the way women shop, but we really thought there was something so great there, there is already that cachet, and we want to bring that back in a more modern way.”

The sale of Studio BeautyMix to NewBeauty, orchestrated by Studio BeautyMix part-owner Intermix Capital Partners, represents a changing of the guard in an independent retail beauty sector that has struggled during the recession and is up against stiff competition from department stores, Sephora, Ulta and the likes of Duane Reade’s Look Boutique and CVS’ Beauty 360 concepts that are platforms for small brands. In the Los Angeles area, Apothia at Fred Segal in West Hollywood remains an important destination for emerging brands, but Fred Segal Beauty in Santa Monica closed its doors in 2008 after 16 years in business and has been replaced by Fred Segal Salon.

Studio BeautyMix is “an iconic retailer that I believe has a reason for being. It is just that with Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom and the evolving face of cosmetics, it was very tough,” said Charlie Perer, partner and co-founder of Intermix Capital, which owned roughly 50 percent of Studio BeautyMix with Coe-Hutshing and Coe-Bakewell owning the rest until the sale.

Attenberg described NewBeauty at Fred Segal, which will officially launch at the Studio BeautyMix location in the first quarter of next year, as an extension of NewBeauty’s editorial content, a venue for ongoing market research and a “children’s museum, but for adults — and all about beauty.” “This isn’t about how many products we are going to sell. It is going to be an experience,” she said. “We are really focused on our reader and our audience.” She detailed that NewBeauty’s readers average 39 years old and are typically affluent women obsessed with beauty services and products.

NewBeauty tested a retail concept for 18 months near its Boca Raton headquarters that provides the basis for NewBeauty at Fred Segal. The new store will cover the range of beauty categories, including skin care, makeup and hair care, and will merchandise products by concerns like wrinkles or acne. Attenberg said there is no requirement for a brand to be a NewBeauty advertiser to sell at the store.

The store will house a Sample Bar with a selection of more than 30 samples for customers to try, and a video studio for NewBeauty to use to record shoppers, staff or speakers and broadcast in real time on the magazine’s Web site.

Michael Segal, Fred Segal’s son who runs the Fred Segal location in Santa Monica, said he was mesmerized by the idea of a NewBeauty store when Adam Sandow, chief executive officer of Sandow Media, and Coe-Hutshing introduced it to him several weeks ago. “I believe so strongly in NewBeauty because Adam Sandow and his team are revolutionizing the retail of beauty products.”

NewBeauty because Adam Sandow and his team are revolutionizing the retail of beauty products.”

Coe-Hutshing will stay connected to NewBeauty at Fred Segal in a consulting role and NewBeauty is adding her to its editorial advisory board. She has said this is an opportunity to pursue her product development ambitions. Coe-Hutshing and her partner, Nicole Ostoya, formed Gold Grenade LLC. “It’s bittersweet,” Coe-Hutshing said earlier in the day. Referring to the health of the store and brands she created, Coe-Hutshing added, “I think we are leaving on a good note.”

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