When Romain Gaillard opened his first Detox Market, it cost $4,000. He built out shelving with used crates — $1.50 each — and trained the sales staff about each of the products. But he forgot to put price tags on them — oops.
Gaillard first became interested in green beauty when a friend of his got breast cancer. “She’s the first one who educated me about toxicity in your life — in the air, in the food, in what you drink, but also personal care,” said Gaillard, chief executive officer of The Detox Market.
The unregulated nature of the industry was foreign to him — he grew up in France — but he found a new generation of brands that were “doing the right thing” and focusing on good ingredients.
“I can tell you today that green beauty’s at a tipping point, but 10 years ago it was a very different story,” Gaillard said.
The first store opened in Venice, Calif., with an “eco-chic” design. It became a community — people would come to the store and hang out. “No one was buying anything really,” Gaillard said. “We were trying to learn how to be a retailer, but really, we had no idea what we were doing.”
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Then, WWD reached out to shoot the store. He was excited, but then he forgot about it. “The reason I forgot about it is I didn’t know what WWD was…I used to be in tech,” Gaillard said. Then, he started to get phone calls congratulating him on the coverage in WWD.
Then, he decided to open a second store in West Hollywood and a third store in San Francisco at the same time as he was getting married. “That turned out to be a disaster — not getting married, the opening of the stores,” Gaillard said.
“The stores were not good, not a good idea. Sometimes when you’re an entrepreneur you just don’t think right,” he said.
“We’re passionate about the mission, about the message, about the brands, but really no one is coming. I have to think — the concept doesn’t work in L.A., it doesn’t work in Venice, it doesn’t work in San Francisco, and those cities are pretty green, so that’s not a good sign. We thought we had no choice but to go international.”
So Gaillard opened a Toronto shop with a yoga studio and cold pressed juice station. “It was beautiful and guess what? It didn’t solve any problems,” Gaillard said.
Turns out, it was too early.
“There was still the passion, but there was no client, and we’re a retailer, so that’s a problem,” Gaillard said. He questioned if he was delusional — “a lot of entrepreneurs are delusional” — and he and the team were working month to month, wondering if the business would still be there.
He overheard a chance conversation between friends at a bar about being careful about skin-care products. So he gave himself another year.
Soon after that, they started having customers in the store, and the online business boomed. They opened more stores, including one in New York that has a full floor for events.
“The clientele interested in green beauty evolved a lot,” Gaillard said. The hippie chic people were already convinced, but then the health conscious people came on board. Then, other types of consumers who were living healthy lifestyles — the green juice and yoga crowd — came on board.
“Once you start with green beauty there is no way back. It’s a little bit like food. I’m sure a lot of you started eating healthier in the past few years, and once you start doing that there is not a time where you go and see your partner or your friend and say, ‘Do you remember when I was eating only junk food? That was great; I’m going to go back to that because it makes me so happy.’ That’s what I’m seeing with green beauty…whatever moves there is not going to come back,” Gaillard said.