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With a new general manager, its first freestanding boutique in Los Angeles set to open in October, and a Manhattan makeup academy planned for a winter 2012 launch, Make Up For Ever is charting a growth strategy for its future.
The Los Angeles boutique, located at 132 South Robertson Boulevard, is a key step in that plan, said J.P. McCary, who was named general manager, North America, for Make Up For Ever in August, succeeding Gilles Kortzagadarian. McCary joined the company as senior vice president of retail in January.
One of McCary’s mandates from global chief executive officer Nicolas Cordier was to lead the brand’s retail expansion in North America, and the Los Angeles boutique will help set the tone to do so, he said.
The South Robertson space will be complemented by the brand’s first Los Angeles Pro Loft, a training and educational facility, to be located at 101 South Robertson.
McCary noted that the Los Angeles flagship will carry the brand’s full 1,400-stockkeeping-unit collection, including professional-only items such as fake blood (sure to be a hit with Tinseltown makeup artists.)
Standout features of the new space include The Make Up Lesson Recording Studio, where customers can record their cosmetics lesson with a Make Up For Ever pro (a USB drive — shaped like a lipstick — for a 30-minute lesson is $20; a 60-minute-lesson USB goes for $35); Make Up School, a series of interactive makeup lessons ranging in price from $40 to $120 that can be done either one-on-one or in a group to educate customers on topics such as eye contouring and long-lasting lipwear, and Smart Board, an interactive touch screen that can be used to create customized makeup designs and face charts, which then can be e-mailed directly to clients.
The Los Angeles boutique is 1,300 square feet and glass-fronted, intended to be reminiscent of a backstage environment in an industrial space, said McCary. Floors are complemented by white walls with gray brick accents and exposed wood beams. Projectors play videos and show images on selected walls. A long communal table laden with new and seasonal Make Up For Ever launches is designed for customers to sit and play with products either prior to or after making a purchase. A private entrance also exists for celebrity clientele.
While McCary refused to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the store would generate at least $2 million in retail sales in its first year of operation.
The 1,000-square-foot Pro Loft across the street is intended to host seminars, classes and photo shoots for professional makeup artists. The space will feature walls of makeup stations and studio lighting, as well as a photo studio. The Loft will be open by appointment only, with sign-ups at makeupforeverpro.com.
Make Up For Ever has also been busy on the East Coast, noted McCary, with the brand’s first licensed Make Up For Ever Academy in Manhattan’s Union Square. Set to open in January 2012, the school will feature three educational modules — Beauty-Fashion, TV-Film and Stage-Artistic — which range from seven to 20 weeks to complete. The lecture areas will include individual makeup stations for each student and a demo area with a high-definition TV and pro lighting. Interactive electronic white boards are intended to enhance communications between the teachers and students, and a photo studio will allow them to capture their work for portfolios and other uses.
Creative and artistic director Dany Sanz opened the brand’s first Academy in Paris in 2002; the Union Square location marks the first U.S. outpost for the Academies. Others are located in Nice, France; Hong Kong; Beirut; Taipei; Brussels; Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore. The New York academy will be led by Floriane David, a French makeup artist and former student of Sanz’s, who has also taught at the Paris Academy and at the London College of Fashion.
The brand continues its distribution expansion efforts in other channels as well, noted McCary. Make Up For Ever is in 289 Sephora stores and will be in 300 by the end of 2011. Three store-in-store outposts are located in Sephora locations in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, at The Venetian in Las Vegas and at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. By yearend, the brand will be in all 307 Sephora in J.C. Penney locations, he said. Make Up For Ever began partnering with QVC in April 2011, and “it has also been a huge success for the brand,” said McCary.
Make Up For Ever was founded by Sanz in 1984 and was acquired by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1999. The brand entered Sephora in the U.S. in 2001.