The move into San Francisco, Chicago and New York locations on Madison Avenue and in Chelsea marks two-year-old True Botanical’s first major retail push, but isn’t a reversal of its digital distribution strategy. To ready itself for stores, the Mill Valley, Calif.-based brand added 10 products priced from $44 to $140 and achieved Made Safe certification to validate its non-toxic ingredients for shoppers.
“We have always seen ourselves as a direct brand similar to Harry’s, Warby Parker or Everlane. We primarily focus on selling direct because that’s how we can get the quality of ingredients we want at the quantities we want,” said True Botanicals founder and chief executive officer Hillary Peterson. “Increasingly, we have become even more selective about our spa and retail partners. We only really do it if it makes sense for the brand. Barneys is a retailer that stands out in delivering an experience that is unique and special, and we will be in the company of brands we admire.”
True Botanicals’ natural positioning, stringent safety standards and antiaging products that include formulations targeting different skin types and concerns distinguish it in the array of skin-care brands available at Barneys New York, where the brand will be housed in the apothecary sections and provide mini-facials. Its antiaging skin-care assortment is broken into three collections: Calm is for sensitive, inflamed skin; Clear is for blemish-prone and acneic skin; and Renew is a universal range designed to prevent visible signs of aging.
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“Most adults who have acne find they need to resort to routines developed for teenagers. That dries out aging skin while addressing bacterial overgrowth. The challenge is to figure out how you can address bacteria deep within the skin while still making sure aging skin is well moisturized and that wrinkle formation is addressed. Nature offers incredible ingredients to use in a situation like that,” said Peterson, pointing specifically to helichrysum, an anti-inflammatory and antifungal ingredient contained in the Clear collection’s Pure Radiance Oil and Hydrating Cleanser.
Other notable products from True Botanicals are Polishing Grains, an exfoliator featuring adzuki bean, kaolin clay and rosehip seed; Cellular Repair Serum, which an independent clinical study determined outperformed Crème de La Mer, and Vitamin C Booster. “When it comes to exfoliation, we make sure that it is thorough and yet gentle enough that it’s not drying out your skin,” explained Peterson. Continuing about the Vitamin C Booster, she said, “It’s in a shaker bottle and is really easy to put in your serum. It has vitamin C in the powdered form, so it can be as potent as possible when it hits the serum.”
As it extends into retail, True Botanicals is pressing forward with digital efforts. In March, Christina Mace-Turner, formerly head of partnerships at Flipboard Inc. and director of content strategy and worldwide marketing communications at Apple Inc., came on board as Peterson’s partner to help shore up the technology end of the business. The brand recently revamped its web site and is working on developing a program to send samples to customers seeking to try True Botanicals before purchasing full-size bottles.
“My specialty is finding ways to create new experiences that can’t exist without technology. Hillary and I saw a real opportunity to marry technology with amazing products and to challenge the beauty industry,” said Mace-Turner. “This is an industry that has operated the same way forever, that is dominated by big companies. I am asking the questions: How can a mission-driven, artisanal brand like our brand thrive? Where does it live in that ecosystem? How can technology really scale the value that we bring to our customers to a much larger set of people?”