MIAMI — Gee Beauty, a Toronto-based cosmetics line, spa and multibrand lifestyle boutique, relocated from its five-year-old location in Bal Harbour Shops to Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour warehouse district last month. The new space doubles its size to 1,200 square feet for a category expansion and more treatment rooms and stations to resemble its bustling Canadian operation. The hip neighborhood — the last refuge for independent businesses in chain-saturated South Beach — also emulates the flagship’s non-touristy enclave. Rather than traditional spa days, à la carte services are designed for busy urban dwellers who frequent Sunset Harbour for all their daily needs.
“Miami has many beautiful spas, but they’re for tourists versus locals,” said cofounder and creative director Celene Gee, who views beauty treatments as just another part of one’s day. “You’ll drop off the kids at school, get a coffee, have your brows shaped and buy a lipstick.”
The natural light-filled, open layout with beachy pale wood and rattan light fixtures feels more like a gallery than the typical, crowded beauty counters and shelves. Shoppers seamlessly meander through merchandise vignettes to discover Le Labo fragrances and candles, Samudra beach totes, Retrosuperfuture sunglasses, and fellow Toronto collections like Tkees flip-flops, Jenny Bird minimal jewelry and Markoo leather bomber jackets. The family-owned business eschews promotions and the hard sell, relying on service and trust to build clientele instead.
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“We never set out to stock a cleanser from 50 brands,” said Gee, who edits a small, best-in-class selection for budget, skin type and lifestyle often through exclusive local partnerships like Dr. Sebagh skin care. “Miami has a lot of international tourists who are brand focused and seek retailers with those brands, so they find us wherever we are.”
Dr. Jean-Louis Sebagh, who rarely does personal appearances, hadn’t been to Miami in decades when he gave a talk here last month. The store offers the full line and Dr. Sebagh Supreme, a $300 facial with the works that can be tailored with tech add-ons such as LED light and Intraceuticals oxygen.
“He has a very French way about indulgence like it’s okay to have your cocktail or afternoon in the sun, but you also have to take care of yourself,” she said.
The extra space allowed them to fill in the missing pieces, from HydraFacial MD treatments to the local exclusive for Colbert MD’s beauty editor-approved eye-lifting serum and brightening mask. Other sought-after lines are Goop, SkinCeuticals and Sunday Riley.
“Tata Harper has a huge following in Miami, too, because she lived here. Her personal turnout during events is incredible,” said Gee, who has another winner with local ties in Miami transplant Elle Macpherson and her Super Elixir supplement. “Elle’s products are very genuine, and we’re finalizing an intimate event with her in the winter. Now that we have the bigger space, we can host educational experiences.”
A greater assortment of non-toxic products extends to The Beauty Chef’s ingestible skin care by Aussie naturalist Carla Oates, Vita Liberata self tanners and tenoverten nail polish.
“People are aware of ingredients and what they’re putting in their systems so we have to give them a more complete picture now.”
Male customers get the same access. Having always offered men’s brow shaping, they introduced the Mr. Gee anti-aging treatment, a combination of microdermabrasion and multivitamin oxygen blast. Though South Beach is identified with its gay demographic, the spa receives its share of heterosexual men, especially clients’ husbands. A men’s night is in the works, according to Gee.
“It’s not so much about vanity as wellness. Miami has many young, creative entrepreneurs who care,” said Gee, who would consider expanding here before other cities. “We’re also concentrating on growing our online business.”