Byrdie Beauty Lab

Online beauty site Byrdie comes to life on the West Coast for the first time following what it dubbed a successful test of the concept in Manhattan late last year.

The Byrdie Beauty Lab concept brings all of the content on the company’s site — part of digital media firm Clique Brands — into the physical world with editor-approved products on hand to sample and buy, along with education through master classes.

“We had such an amazing turnout in New York and it definitely exceeded our expectations,” said Byrdie editorial director Faith Xue. “We found that people really wanted to come in and not only try the samples but play around with the product. It was exactly what we were hoping for in that sense. We also found that people, when they really loved something, wanted to buy it. That’s something we took into account with the second iteration for L.A.”

Xue also pointed out that with the New York run, the company found classes that allowed visitors to follow along with the instructor did better than ones that functioned as strictly informational.

The 1,500-square-foot West Hollywood space features stations the Byrdie team felt would be appealing to the Los Angeles consumer, such as a bronzing bar and wellness station. Master classes on subjects such as dermarolling and wearable fall hairstyles are part of the programming.

More than 50 brands will be featured in the Lab, including Eve Lom, Charlotte Tilbury, Elizabeth Arden, Stila, Oribe, Becca, Lorac and Honest Beauty. That’s in addition to Amazon serving as the space’s e-commerce partner with Skin Laundry, Burt’s Bees, Sun Bum, Sunday Riley, Nexxus, Pureology, InStyler and Laura Geller among the other sponsors.

About 85 percent of the products featured within the pop-up were chosen by the editorial team; the rest reflect an integration of product from brand partners, most of which was still then selected by the editors.

“We definitely wanted this to feel as editorial as possible, so it’s very similar to our editorial process,” Xue said of how the team went about selecting what brands to feature within the Lab. “We really did want it to feel like an extension of our editorial view and these are products that we 100 percent stand behind.”

The Lab in many ways reflects an amalgamation of two separate concepts. One is the next generation take on department store beauty counters and the continued importance of partnering with brands in a way that’s more native advertising than banner ad.

On that first point, Xue said what separates the Lab from the more traditional beauty counter format is curation and intent.

“There’s no salespeople there trying to sell you product,” she said. “We’re not forcing anything on you. It’s really more of an opportunity for us to not only give our readers a space to experiment, but also give them a place to meet and build their sense of community and learn from each other. I think that’s also something that sets Byrdie apart is our readers love to learn from each other.”

The assortment is also pared back from what’s in a traditional department store due to the curation, Xue said. So rather than hitting the consumer with five different foundations from the same brand, for example, Byrdie’s editors may have selected the best one of those five to place in front of visitors.

In-real-life pop-ups are the future of beauty, Xue said, adding there’s interest in hosting more of these types of experiences.

“At Clique, we embraced pop-ups early as natural extensions of our media brands,” said Clique cofounder and chief executive officer Katherine Power. “Community is our number-one focus as we think about growing our brands, so we saw pop-up activations as a way to organically interact with our online community in an off-line capacity. This allows our favorite brand partners to see the power of our audience through an amazing halo of social lift and purchase conversion. I don’t see people or brands getting sick of the pop-up trend any time soon and I’m confident we’ll find ways to innovate and build on this model going forward.”

The Lab is located at 611 North La Cienega Boulevard. It bows July 20 and is expected to remain open through July 29.

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