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Essence Does DIY Beauty in Berlin

German budget cosmetics brand Essence launched a make-it-yourself makeup pop-up shop with mix-your-own lipgloss and customized nail polish.

BERLIN Maker meets makeup. German budget cosmetics brand Essence is getting crafty with its new pop-up concept, Maker Shop.

Located in the midst of a busy Berlin shopping area, Maker Shop gives customers the chance to mix their own lipgloss, and customize the color of their nail polish, with the help of shop staff. The pop-up opens May 12 and will stay open through July.

“The desire for custom products, the desire to be creative, to create something as a coproducer, we see this as a huge trend. It’s also a lot of fun, and it suits our customer very well,” explained Cosnova’s Nicole Emmermann Thursday at a preview event.

Inside the two-level shop is a cute and crafty workshop complete with white lab coats, safety glasses in pink and purple, and pink gloves.

A six-step hands-on process lets makeup lovers squeeze out color, sprinkle glitter, and dribble aroma — say coconut, or icing sugar —  and blend them into one-of-a kind lipgloss or matte lipgloss. Even the packaging can be individualized with stickers at the ‘label table.’

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Down a narrow stairway is a massive magenta machine — a high-tech color-matching system for nail polish. A tablet is used to scan the color of any item from shoes to soda and replicate it with “nanodrop” technology that prepares the custom shade in three minutes. While waiting, makers can print out selfies or relax in a lounge corner.

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“The focus is the customer journey,” Emmermann said. “Finding a balance and connection between high-touch and high-tech is the big challenge, and the idea the stands behind it.”

Maker Shop was born out of Cosnova’s Think Tank, a trend-oriented creative unit formed in 2015. To develop an idea around do-it-yourself beauty, Emmermann and the Think Tank team worked with a professor and students from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. They tested an unbranded mix-your-own lipgloss pop-up in the city, and were delighted at the response — from young women, but also fathers and daughters, or young men making gifts for girlfriends.

The Berlin Maker Shop has room for about 20 to 30 makers to DIY at the same time. There’s no attendance estimate for the three-month pop-up, but Cosnova Think Tank’s Maximilian Seidel said they’re prepared for a crowd.

“Put it this way, we have 5,000 nail polish bottles here. We can manage quite few people,” he laughed.

Maker Shop products cost 3 euros, or $3.26, per item, or 3 for 8 euros, or $8.70.

Standard Essence nail polishes are priced between 1.55 euros and 1.95 euros, or $1.69 and $2.12, and lipgloss from 1.95 to 2.25 euros, or $2.12 to $2.45 at current exchange. It’s not the first DIY offer from Essence: The brand already offers choose-your-own palettes and sold limited-edition pigment mixing products in 2013. And more customizable and maker-related products are in the pipeline, Seidel said.

Cosnova Beauty, which also holds brands Catrice and LOV, has seen strong and steady growth since first being founded in 2001. According to Nielsen data, every fourth cosmetic product purchased in Germany is from Essence. Ninety percent of the Essence assortment is produced in Europe.

In 2016, company net sales rose 14.2 percent to 361.4 million euros, or $400 million at average exchange. Cosnova says it expects double-digit growth again this year. Essence is present in more than 80 countries around the world, sold in drugstores, supermarkets and boutiques. Last year its North American distribution was enlarged, adding the brand to more than 500 Target stores. The brand is also available at Ulta and Fred Meyer in the US.

The Maker Shop runs in tandem with Essence’s 15-year celebrations. In July, the brand will host a party for fans in Berlin’s Tempodrom, which has a capacity of 3,800. Cosnova also commissioned a birthday song from German pop star Lukas Rieger, and a birthday dance choreographed by Hamza Haimami, who has worked with Justin Timberlake and Rihanna.