Dianne Vavra may have had a decades-long career in beauty PR, most recently heading up efforts at Christian Dior, but her love of all things shiny — and vintage — started much younger.
“Even as a kid, I dabbled in retail for summer jobs, and during high school, I worked at Sotheby’s,” she said. “I worked a lot of vintage jewelry auctions, and learned the value of things at a young age.”
Vavra is parlaying her penchant for the aged and exquisite into a new boutique, Vavra New York, which is opening this spring in Huntington, N.Y. The store will include 20 beauty brands, as well as vintage luxury goods from Vavra’s personal collection and pieces she has sourced for the store.
“There’s a lot of women here who love designer [pieces], but who also love vintage and are very into beauty,” Vavra said. “Everything in my shop has a story, so if someone buys it, I can tell them the story. There’s something for everyone, you can buy a $4 lip balm or a $4,000 Chanel bag.”
The shop, on the north coast of Long Island, will cater to a cosmopolitan clientele, Vavra said. “If you think of the Great Gatsby, that’s how the town is,” she said. “We have an art museum, a cinema arts center. It’s a very culturally dynamic town, and very culturally diverse.”
In an effort to keep her assortment tightly edited, Vavra will cap her beauty brand partners at 20. The brands thus far include Aleph, Angela Caglia, Ashlie Johnson, Biography, Brett Brow, Cultivate Apothecary, Dark Rose Body Scrub, Dr. Elsa Jungman, Emilie Heathe, Flora Mirabilis, Graydon, Kari Gran, Klint, KVD, Le Verden, Nooki, Pigmint Arôme, R Brow, Soma Ayurvedic and Supergoop.
“When I decided to take the plunge, I wanted it to be like a little jewel box for people to come in and find things that they wouldn’t find in Sephora, Ulta, Bluemercury, Saks or Neiman’s,” she said. “It’s mostly indie brands I’m working with, or brands I use and love.”
Vavra, who grew up in Manhattan and spent almost two decades at Dior, thinks her product knowledge will also come in handy. “As the beauty person, everyone always asks me what they should do for different concerns,” she said. “I’ve worked with dermatologists, plastic surgeons and luxury brands, working with all these beautiful brands and research and development people,” she said. “It’s going to be very beneficial to the shop, it’s almost like people can get a prescription.
“I learned so much by observing makeup artists and traveling with them, even though I’m not a makeup myself, I know what works for people,” she continued, nodding to her time traveling with talents from Sharon Stone to Natalie Portman. “For that reason, beauty will sell very well.”
Vavra now works as the chief executive officer of Spotlight PR, and despite her robust résumé in the sector, her passion for vintage has always coexisted with her career.
“I always had this love while I was doing my full-time career as a beauty publicist,” she said. “I always was into finding new beauty brands and finding vintage shops.”
FOR MORE FROM WWD.COM, SEE: