The Webster boutique is going after a new market: prestige beauty.
The 11-year-old retailer, which now has eight locations nationwide, is amping up its offerings in the beauty market. Beauty is not entirely new to the retailer, which hosts outposts for hairstylist David Mallett and aesthetician Joanna Czech in its New York location, and has launched brands like La Bouche Rouge in the United States. Although The Webster is just dipping its toes into the beauty business, founder and creative director Laure Hériard Dubreuil sees an opportunity for her curatorial skills in the market.
“What’s always so important and part of the DNA of the Webster is the curation, and a mix of the most established brands and the youngest designers. That’s what I wanted to do with beauty,” said Hériard Dubreuil.
The store’s beauty vertical, which launched exclusively online, includes skin care, color cosmetics, and fragrance. It will stock products from Augustinus Bader, Vintner’s Daughter, Dr. Barbara Sturm, MZ Skin, Westman Atelier, Sisley, Clarins, Liha Beauty, Joanna Vargas, Manasi(7), Royal Fern, Kat Burki, My Superflower, KNC Beauty, Floraiku, and Tammy Fender.
Strategically speaking, it’s part of the retailer’s great digital expansion. “The timing needed to be right, and I wanted a push online. With the past year, we really grew our omnichannel and accelerated our omnichannel presence. This was the perfect timing to start including a beauty selection, starting with e-commerce,” Hériard Dubreuil said.
In terms of product offerings, the brand is starting small with a tight brand matrix. “We start with online, and we start with a very tight curation. I want to grow organically,” Hériard Dubreuil said. She added that in three to five years, beauty could make up between 5 percent and 10 percent of the business.
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the retailer, but there have been some bright spots. “The day confinement started, I thought it was going to be the end of the world and our business, with all of our stores closed. But actually, I’ve been blown away by the relationships we’ve built throughout the years with our clients,” Hériard Dubreuil said.
The boutique has seen movement across categories, and customers are willing to spend. “We definitely sold luxurious leisurewear, home and fragrances were definitely strong as these were luxuries that could be easily enjoyed in the moment,” Hériard Dubreuil said, adding that in beauty, all things mask-like were quick to gain traction. “We saw our clients focusing on investment pieces, working with our stylists to procure bags and vintage watches. These, plus statement pieces for future wear,” she added.
Beauty isn’t the retailer’s only expansion efforts, having opened a new store in Montecito, Calif., in July. “We opened in Montecito, we had started working on this project before confinement and we actually managed to open in July and have had an amazing response. As an entrepreneur, it’s always a roller coaster and you don’t know what tomorrow will be,” Hériard Dubreuil said.
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