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Newcomer AfterBeauty Sets Out to Be London’s Go-to Beauty Playground

There’s a Millennial pink nail bar, express facial treatments, a meditation area and over 140 beauty brands to shop from.

LONDON — There’s a new beauty player on the British high street. Located near Burlington Arcade and Fortnum & Mason, the new four-story retailer AfterBeauty is aiming to be the go-to beauty playground with a focus on “experience per square footage.”

AfterBeauty was founded by industry newcomers Zanelle Lim and Jerry Taechaubol, who stocked up the shop floors with products ranging across skin care, makeup and lifestyle from over 140 brands, including Dermalogica, Skinfood, and Physicians Formula.

“We’ve got a wide range of brands and a wide range of price points. So we’re really about letting customers shop the way they want to shop and not telling them they have to be a luxury customer or a high street customer,” said Isabelle Hefford, head of marketing and operations at AfterBeauty.

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To help the customer shop comfortably, products are lined against the wall by category, with play tables either located toward the back of the floor or in the middle of the shop to encourage customers to mix and match and try on different products.

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As part of the experience-led ethos, Taechaubol and Lim have also added playful elements to the store, such as stickers on the floor encouraging customers to take a selfie, promotional offers written up in lipstick on the mirrors and a meditation room for their customers.

“We are very much targeting Millennials, so that’s why we have a playful, quirky tone and creating experiences in-store for the consumer. It’s a big space and you can do lots of different things,” said Hefford, adding that they will constantly be redecorating and reanimating the store to keep it fresh.

There are a lot of Instagrammable moments, from the stuffed teddy bear padded elevator to the angel wings lining the stairs and the flower wall in the nail bar on the top floor.

‘It’s about building a community for our customers,” added Taechaubol.

On every floor there is a main point of attraction. Located on the lower ground floor is skin care — an area that Lim and Taechaubol predict will be their top-performing category. They’ve also brought on brands that have exclusively launched with them such as Skin Inc, Juice Beauty and The Better Skin Co.

The floor has a dedicated treatment area for express facial services including body wraps and manicures.

AfterBeauty skincare floor
AfterBeauty skincare floor. Courtesy Photo

“The modern Millennial wants express and you can leave here in 15 minutes with a complete glow and finish your look with makeup upstairs. It’s about bite-sized skin care and it doesn’t need to be this weekend plan thing,” said Hefford.

Located on the ground floor is the makeup section, decked out with a lot of selfie spotlights. “From a traffic point of view, makeup is what’s going to attract people in and making people understand that there are multiple categories here. We’re also going to have events on this floor as well as our dedicated event space on the top floor, our [second] floor,” Hefford added.

The retailer’s other categories — men’s, hair care, bath and body, nails and lifestyle — are located on the first floor. Here these smaller categories flank the walls and lead the customer to the ultimate Millennial space, a nail bar, known as the “Nail Nirvana” with blush pink pouf chairs, marble sinks and a flower wall complete with neon signage.

“We really focused on the in-store experience, which we think is different from other retailers, and what makes us unique,” said Taechaubol.

The team is confident that they can create content and experiences that customers want; with their head offices located just above the store, they are able to respond to real-time data.

To cater to these experiences, AfterBeauty’s staff is vital to the retailer’s success. According to the founders, they’ve worked closely with each brand and provided specialized brand training to their sales staff.

“Everyone who works here will be trained on every single brand, there will be a lot of cross-selling. Unlike beauty counters, they’re not on commission, which means they can give honest opinions on which products will work best for our customer,” said Hefford.

Lim and Taechaubol are so confident in their experience-first and cross-selling strategy that they are already talking about expansion.

“The vision is to grow AfterBeauty and have more stores, not just in the U.K.,” said Taechaubol.