By  on September 25, 2009

After dabbling in beauty for the past six years — trying to find the perfect mix of brands — ABC Home has unveiled a new incarnation of their apothecary, which now reflects the retailer’s vision of green, healthy, organic personal care.

The 800-square-foot space on the first floor of the iconic home furnishings mecca merchandises an array of skin, nail, body and hair care brands, all of which aim to inspire customers to live a more healthy lifestyle and are free of harmful ingredients such as phthalates, sulfites and carcinogens.

The event celebrating the apothecary’s expansion was held Tuesday morning and was hosted by representatives from many of the brands featured in the apothecary as well as ABC Home’s top brass, including chief executive officer and creative director Paulette Cole; chief operating officer Amy Chender; senior vice president of creative merchandising Lisa Kurczewski, and senior buyer Kelly Antosz.

The ABC team felt the timing of the launch this week was appropriate given the United Nation’s discussions on international climate change — and change overall.

“Beauty is such an important place to start with being healthy,” said Chender.

The apothecary takes up about 25 percent of the first floor’s selling space — much of which used to be dedicated to gifts and textiles — and houses about a dozen beauty brands, including new lines Intelligent Nutrients, Kahina-Giving Beauty, Hamadi Organics, Juara, Arcona and Tammy Fender, which join Peacekeeper and Priti Nails.

“Before we came out to the world, we have been experimenting with a lot of product,” said Kurczewski. Brands ABC Home has also sold include Red Flower, Dr. Hauschka, Ren, Savannah Bee and Little Twig.

“Being inspired early on to develop mission-based retailing and also the beauty aspect of that has been important,” said Chender.

Criteria for choosing brands called for “conscious formulas with a commitment to a holistic lifestyle. The brands have a story on how and why they started. They also pay attention to packaging,” said Antosz.

The event attracted many Manhattan-based beauty editors, who were invited to sample mini beauty services such as hair trims, facials and hand massages. Brand reps also discussed the history of their lines and pointed out must-see items.

Intelligent Nutrients founder Horst Rechelbacher was on hand to discuss his line’s certified organic skin care, hair care, neutraceuticals and essential oils, which are merchandised on five 4-foot displays, accented by sparkly baubles and accessories. He mentioned his new line of certified organic lip glosses and lipsticks, Lip Nutrition, would arrive on shelves in November and would sell for $24.95. Rechelbacher is very proud of Lip Nutrition for offering a “huge alternative” to lip color for women, he said, as traditional formulas contain “dozens and dozens of toxins.” He said he is planning to run an ad in the New York Times spelling out the toxins included in many big-brand product formulations.

“They are going to hate me,” he said of the beauty firms who use formulas Rechelbacher doesn’t approve.

Rechelbacher’s passion for clean products was just the sort of benchmark ABC Home executives were looking for in the brands they selected for the apothecary.

“Horst has been a mentor of mine for years,” said Cole. “I like how he says, ‘We report to the planet.’”

Kurczewski and Antosz recognized “a lack in the marketplace of conscience organic lines” and set out to make a bigger statement.

“We spent a year researching the best brands,” said Antosz.

The effort represents a repositioning to a “healthy home lifestyle,” said Cole, who added that a new restaurant, ABC Food, a farm-to-table eatery, is opening Oct. 30, to be overseen by consulting executive chef, Jean Georges.

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