Robin Coe-Hutshing, the queen of West Coast indie beauty retailing, is preparing to enter Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street, with her Memoire Liquide Bespoke Perfumery collection of mix and match fragrances.
The full organ setup, stocked with 75 scents, is scheduled to open April 14 and be fully operational by May 1. It will be located in the flagship’s new fragrance area.
Coe-Hutshing’s move will come on the heels of a complete reformatting of her retail base at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif. Coe-Hutshing and her sister, Jennifer Coe-Bakewell, set up shop there in 1984, and the 4,000-square-foot retail space has gone through a number of the incarnations.
In the latest move, Coe-Hutshing struck up a partnership with Intermix Capital. Then the retailer, who is an ardent music fan, renamed her former Studio at Fred Segal as the new Studio Beautymix.
The name is meant to denote a marriage of her twin interests in cutting-edge retailing and innovative brand development. The assortment at Fred Segal has always mixed the exotic with the offbeat and purely inviting — from the luxurious to the funky. While developing her own brands like the Burn candle line and Memoire Liquide, Coe-Hutshing has also merchandised lines like My Blend, Korres, Creme de la Mer and the Japanese cult shampoo Komenuka Bijin.
“We are interested in incubating nascent brands,” she said. “What we do that other people don’t do as well, I feel, is give them a home.”
In addition to serving as an incubator, Coe-Hutshing also views the store as a launchpad for brands she intends to create and then send out through other distribution channels, including direct selling via TV and e-commerce. Coe-Hutshing also said she is interested in forming retail alliances, with other stores.
Of the brands under development, two are on the runway. One is a ready mixed, ready-to-wear scents out of the Memoire Liquide range. Coe-Hutshing said there will be six scents, the first five launched in the fall. The names of each — Fleur Liquide, Vacances Liquide and Soleil Liquide — are designed to help the customer attach memories to the ingredients in the formulas, or “lead people in a certain direction.”
There is also a body skin softening brand called Soft Corp. In addition to a skin softening product, there will be a spray oil, a cream body wash, a rose tinted lip softener, a natural lip shimmer and a whipped shave wash that will enable customers to shave and wash their legs at the same time. It will have the consistency of an old-fashioned men’s shaving cream. “It’s something I found lacking in my own business,” she observed. “It’ll be usable every day,” she said, describing the pricing as “user friendly in the prestige range, but not precious.”
Another line under development is called Plant Lab, which, similar to Memoire Liquide, will offer botanical-based skin care that can be customized. Also in the works is an outgrowth of one of the most popular Memoire Liquide offerings. It will be a new fragrance called Nudite Intense.
Coe-Hutshing declined to discuss the details of her partnership. But industry sources estimate that between the retailing, wholesaling and planned e-commerce site, the new venture could double in size from the present volume of about $3 million.
Over the years, Coe-Hutshing has collected a following of savvy shoppers.
“We have such an early adopter clientele,” Coe-Hutshing said, noting that with the collapse of the economy she had an opportunity. “If people aren’t going shopping, we can take the shopping to them.” So she took Memoire Liquide on the road to her customers’ homes in a Southern California update of Tupperware parties. First, it was mixing fragrances at weddings and privates parties, then she added makeup artists, hairstylists and skin care experts. She has done 30 or 40 events in the last year.
“If the business is going to be on the frustrating side, we are going to be doing this,” she said. “It makes it easier for them and easier for us.”
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