Retailer Diana Ross is bringing her community-driven beauty approach beyond New Jersey state lines and across two rivers to Brooklyn, N.Y.
This story first appeared in the June 25, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Ross — senior vice president and marketing director of the Ridgewood, N.J., apothecary Town & Country — has partnered with City Chemist in Brooklyn Heights to outfit the neighborhood shop with an upscale beauty offering.
The corner store, slated to open July 9, is located at 129 Montague Street, a shopping strip thick with tourists and the stroller set.
People are not zooming by in a New York minute, said Ross, who is acting as a consultant to City Chemist, a family-run apothecary that also operates Bridge Apothecary in nearby DUMBO. “They are taking their time.”
Ross has broken the conventional beauty class system before. She began stocking Town & Country with department store brand lines, including Clinique and La Mer, more than 16 years ago — well before talk of channel blurring became the norm.
To engage the local community and drum up beauty business at Town & Country, Ross hosts countless events, including Clinique birthday parties, grooming lessons for Girl Scouts and Mommies Night Out. Recently, she invited customers to bring in their makeup bags for a consultation on what to toss and what to add.
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She’s invested in the community, so much so that she started what she jokingly called “a movement” to introduce tweens to different eyeliner options. “I’m tired of every 12-year-old in New Jersey wearing black eyeliner,” she declared.
Ross plans to take the same approach in this bustling Brooklyn neighborhood, and has begun paging through the local papers for event ideas suited for City Chemist.
The store will stock prestige brands, a smattering of mass market lines and a men’s section, as well as candy, giftables and a fully stocked baby care and children’s department.
“I don’t want to lose any customer,” said Ross, referring to the shop’s hybrid beauty mix. Brow-shaping expert Ramy is slated to drop into the store monthly, and makeup artist Paula Dorf also is scheduled to visit. Ross hopes to convert an office adjacent to the pharmacy into a spa room, where City Chemist can offer complimentary facials with certain purchases.
“It’s a wellness boutique with beauty at the core of it,” said Ross, who added she favors the apothecary environment because a pharmacist is available to answer questions about skin concerns and supplements.
Beauty brands intended for City Chemist include cosmetics lines Ramy, Paula Dorf, Fusion Beauty and Smashbox; skin care ranges Perricone MD, Caudalie, Ahava, Clarins and Dr. Hauschka, as well as Bumble and bumble hair care and Bond No. 9 fragrances. Ross will stock the men’s section with Anthony Logistics for Men.
“This store is a representation of my closet,” said Ross. “We’ll expand as we go along.”
On this day, Ross was busy interviewing beauty advisers. “I’m telling sales associates to listen to the customer,” she said. “I remember seeing Mrs. [Estée] Lauder at Saks listening to the customer.” The aim, said Ross, is for sales associates to advise — but not pounce — and to sell seamlessly across all beauty brands.