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Fig + Yarrow Spreads Retail Locally and Nationally

The natural personal-care brand is rolling out to Target and launching its own retail concepts.

Fig + Yarrow is expanding retail in its hometown and hometowns across the nation.

The natural personal-care brand is rolling out to 200 Target stores on July 17 and, by October, is opening three retail concepts — raw food and juice bar Folia Raw, general store The Good Bower and a Fig + Yarrow apothecary — at its headquarters in Denver. The launches weren’t carefully orchestrated strategies, but they still culminate in a major distribution push for what’s been somewhat of a hidden gem since customers began flocking to it on Etsy five years ago.

“I have been carried along by opportunities that have unfolded like ground appearing underneath my feet. It was never a practical start to the business. I didn’t have a business plan. I went with it and people found me. It really started because someone at Etsy noticed Fig + Yarrow, and decided to do a feature,” said Brandy Monique, founder of Fig + Yarrow, which is available at around 200 boutiques. “I have never approached anyone who we sell to. I am too busy running the business. Everyday, it’s sort of a surprise.”

When Target initially contacted Monique about bringing Fig + Yarrow to its stores, she was reluctant to take the plunge. She was preoccupied with refreshing the brand’s formulations and packaging, didn’t see how she could decrease prices to suit a broad consumer base, couldn’t generate the volumes required for Target with her handcrafting methods and worried entering the mass market wouldn’t be true to the brand’s heritage. But Target wouldn’t back down.

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“At first, I said, ‘I don’t know if it is a great fit, but I would love to do a spin-off line for Target.’ They said, ‘Oh, that’s nice, but we really love Fig + Yarrow.’ They wanted to be associated with the brand story. I said, ‘Logistically, there are a lot of things that make this hard,’” recounted Monique. “We are pretty content doing what we do as it is right now, and keeping the boutiques that find out about us. I feel like some people might think it is a little paradoxical to go into a retailer like Target.”

The crux of the paradox was the following question: How could the sumptuous self-care that’s the essence of Fig + Yarrow be conveyed in the packed aisles of a large chain where convenience and affordability are prized? Monique was skeptical until an increasingly loud chorus of voices informed her shoppers were searching for brands such as Fig + Yarrow at Target, and its stores were teeming with potential customers she wasn’t catching through her present retail network.

“I have a couple of really hip mom friends. They said, ‘Target, that’s amazing,’ and that made me feel we could work there. How great would it be for hip moms like them to find their beloved Fig + Yarrow at their local Target at a better price point?” Monique said. “The opportunity was so persistent that I said, ‘Alright, we are going to do this.’ It’s not like we built the line with the apex of the line’s achievements being getting into Target. It’s just another welcome retailer, and I’m interested to see how it goes.”

Once she finally agreed to put Fig + Yarrow in Target, Monique had to figure out the products from her brand the retailer would stock. She knew she’d have to cut costs and find a manufacturer to produce the quantities necessary for Target. She scoured manufacturers and settled on a natural and organic ingredient specialist. “I went there, looked at the facility and it is really wonderful. It has a wonderful business culture that’s not unlike ours. They are doing what we are doing, but their vats are 100 times larger than ours,” Monique said.

Priced from $19.99 to $22.99, the selection arriving at Target includes two new products — Palmarosa Charcoal Foaming Gel Cleanser and Butter Balm — and four existing products: Facial Serum, Complexion Water and Clay Mask in French green, and rosehip and Rhassoul varieties. To keep prices reasonable, Monique said, “I went mostly for ingredients that are gorgeous ingredients but are at a lower price point because of their availability. They [Target] know what moves, so I said, ‘OK, we will try to achieve that, but I’m not going to compromise on the quality of the product.’ We went back and forth a bit, and did end up raising them all. They worked with me every step of the way, and they respect and appreciate the line, so it wasn’t a problem for them.”

Target will test Fig + Yarrow in natural skin-care and premium skin-care sections. Both sections showed strong growth in the first quarter — up approximately 20 percent and 45 percent, respectively, according to the retailer — and Target anticipates Fig + Yarrow will help continue their momentum. “Partnering with Fig + Yarrow allows us to further differentiate our beauty offerings,” said Dawn Block, senior vice president, beauty and essentials for Target. Monique added, “They have been pouring a tremendous amount of their own investment into supporting the line. I know they expect it to be a really successful line.”

As Fig + Yarrow casts a wide net for customers at Target, it’s focusing on customers in its backyard as well — literally. In the backyard of the brand’s offices, a former firehouse in the hipster enclave LoHi that Monique also lives in, Monique has cultivated two gardens that will be accessible to shoppers at Folia Raw, The Good Bower and Fig + Yarrow locations. The locations are separate and each have a distinct design aesthetic. Monique described The Good Bower as utilitarian; Folia Raw as clean, white and pure; and the brand’s apothecary as premium and indulgent. The apothecary will contain an area for patrons to customize scrubs, lip balms and more.

“I’ve had my hand in every detail, and that is so fulfilling. Even though I probably have too many irons in the fire, it feels much better for me to be in a space that’s not just a factory space. Before, we had a factory that was all about shipping and manufacturing,” Monique said. “Here, we get to give people an experience, too, and the whole educational piece we have been longing to do.”

While it won’t replicate Target, Monique has a vision for Fig + Yarrow retail beyond her backyard — and could seek investment to achieve that vision. “Everything I am building toward is for that moment I’m ready to ask for a significant investment. In one of the first interviews I ever gave years ago, I was asked, ‘What do you see for the future of Fig + Yarrow?’ I said, ‘Opening Fig + Yarrow apothecaries in obscure locations.’ We are not going to open in malls,” she said. “I consider this our prototype and, if the retail does well, I feel it would be a great opportunity to approach investors and say, ‘How about a dozen more?’ I feel more comfortable proving a model and then asking for people to participate.”