If facial studio Glowbar’s first weeks back in business are any indication, New York facial enthusiasts are ready to get back to their regular appointments.
After months of coronavirus-induced delay, the popular TriBeCa fast-facial spot has reopened both its original location and a new second location on the Upper East Side. The original Tribeca location opened Sept. 11 with a week’s worth of appointments booked and a full waiting list, and the Upper East Side space followed on Sept. 18, also with a week’s worth of appointments plus a waiting list.
The 1,200-square-foot Upper East Side outpost, located at 1230 Third Avenue, quietly opened its doors after its originally scheduled March opening was pushed back due to the coronavirus and government-mandated salon closures.
In figuring out when they might be able to open the Upper East Side location, Glowbar cofounders Rachel Liverman and Neha Govindraj faced the same frustration as aestheticians around the city — while hair and nail salons were able to open in early June, facial services in New York were placed under a separate set of guidelines and were unable to resume until Sept. 4.
Liverman and Govindrai likely played a key role in the resuming of facial services. The cofounders, along with local New York aestheticians such as Sofie Pavitt and Georgia Louise, as well as the founders of facial chain Heyday, hired a lawyer and lobbyist in Albany to push New York state to lift the ban on facials.
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“We weren’t given any direction,” said Liverman of the government’s handling of salon closures. “It became very clear we were going to have to make some noise to get the governor’s attention.”
Glowbar TriBeCa opened in 2019 with a focus on fast, affordable yet effective facial services. Glowbar treatments are priced at $65 for 30 minutes, and include services such as dermaplaning, LED therapy and light chemical peels. Monthly memberships are available for $55 a month. The concept quickly became known for its signature do-it-yourself face-washing station, meant to maximize client time with aestheticians.
Glowbar closed its Tribeca studio on March 16, as the COVID-19 situation in New York began to worsen. The near six-month closure gave the cofounders time to “be introspective” about the business, said Govindraj. During the closure, Glowbar launched virtual consultations and an e-commerce platform, both of which will be key to the company’s strategy going forward.
“Digital was always part of the plan before COVID-19, but COVID-19 gave us time to focus on it,” said Govindraj.
Glowbar’s virtual consultations have allowed clients and non-clients to get in touch with aestheticians during the pandemic and develop skin-care routines. The company’s e-commerce sales were on-par during the pandemic with its prior monthly retail revenues. “The digital platform allows clients to have a connection with our aestheticians,” said Liverman. “The client is so discerning now and we want them to continue to trust us and track their progress and not just take selfies on their own.”
Despite high levels of interest in virtual consults, Govindraj and Liverman are planning to open more physical locations, with expansion to the New York suburbs planned for later this year.
“As we think about scale and expansion, COVID-19 proves that the future of stores is brick and mortar that provide a human personal touch — nothing can replicate that. We can’t ship our professional tools and wouldn’t want our clients using them on themselves. The future of the business lies in having that professional touch and layering digital in a way that allows them to converse with us every day,” said Govindraj.