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Neiman Marcus Takes On Indie Beauty

It's the latest department store to showcase a crop of emerging brands.

Neiman Marcus’ beauty department is about to welcome the indies.

Today will see the launch of the retailer’s ShopTheExpo, an indie beauty assortment of 15 new-to-Neiman’s brands spanning the skin-care, color and body-care spaces that will be sold on for three months. The project, a collaboration with the Indie Beauty Expo, will kick off with a two-day pop-up Saturday and Sunday at the retailer’s store in the NorthPark Center in Dallas. All brand founders will be in attendance to educate and do meet-and-greets with consumers over the course of the weekend.

“With the rise in indie beauty we’ve been focused on curating an amazing assortment of under-the-radar brands,” said Kelly St. John, vice president, divisional merchandise manager for beauty at Neiman’s. She and a buyer attended two Indie Beauty Expos — one in Dallas and one in New York — where they met with hundreds of brands before narrowing down to the 15 “that stood out for us.”

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Among them: Mahalo Care, a botanic-based skin-care collection hailing from Hawaii; Pour Moi Beauty, a climate-smart skin-care range with a host of global patents; Ellis Faas, a namesake cosmetics line from the Dutch makeup artist; Ayuna, a collection with a “topical fasting for the skin” concept, and Swiss Smile, a luxe oral-care collection offering toothbrushes and tooth gel.

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Neiman Marcus is the latest department store to showcase a fast-growing crop of independent beauty brands. Bloomingdale’s, arguably the most aggressive of the department stores to embrace these smaller players, rolled out two initiatives dedicated to the space in the past year alone. Earlier this year, Bloomingdale’s said it was taking its Knockout Beauty shops-in-shop concept into top-performing doors nationwide, and August saw the opening of Glowhaus, a Millennial-focused effort with an emphasis on hot indie lines. In 2008, Bloomingdale’s started to open Space NK shop-in-shops.

Similarly, ShopTheExpo will become a vehicle to highlight and sell niche, high-end lines that traditionally would not have representation on the beauty floor of a department store alongside the Lancômes, Estée Lauders and Nars’ of the world.

And it’s only the beginning.

Next month, a Trending Beauty Shop will open in Neiman’s NorthPark door and on, carrying many of the brands that were part of the ShopTheExpo. This effort, a permanent addition to the retailer’s beauty offerings to “highlight newness” and especially new indie brands, according to St. John, will see the opening of additional shops in the spring.

“We’ve had a long history of nurturing young brands into the giant brands they are today,” said St. John, pointing out that the retailer picked up Bobbi Brown and La Mer in the early days when each was still privately owned. She also pointed to Chantecaille as another example.

St. John expects ShopTheExpo and the soon to launch Trending Beauty Shop to mirror the success of indie fragrance, which is instrumental to the store’s fragrance business. She declined to give sales projections for the Indie Beauty Shop but said the plan is for the category to become a “growing and significantly trending business for us. We have seen that with Beauty BioScience and Tata Harper and some other brands.”

“Certainly in the industry you hear about designer and mass being challenging…[at Neiman Marcus] the niche and luxury [categories] continue to be very, very strong,” St. John maintained.