A capsule of calm lands in select Nordstrom stores this week via Australian skin and body products company Aēsop.
The latest installment of Nordstrom’s pop-in program brings Aēsop to customers as the beauty brand seeks to open more doors in America. The push into Nordstrom is seen by the company as a good way to get into markets not familiar with the brand and its simplistic philosophy on skin care and retailing.
The company fashioned bamboo into archways to create a semi-enclosed space in Nordstrom stores where Aēsop consultants — some of whom will be flown in from Australia, France, Germany and the U.K. — will be on hand to assist customers with products.
“The driving thought is to convey our approach to skin care, creating a shelter in which we could explore skin rituals,” said Stuart Millar, Aēsop general manager and president of the Americas. “We really wanted to create a space for a moment of pause. All of our retail stores, as they stand now, all kind of aim to offer that moment of pause so that we can almost slow down the pace of the customer service engagement that we have.”
The company’s pop-ins at Nordstrom range from 450 square feet up to 900 square feet.
The Aēsop pop-in runs from Friday through May 22 at Nordstrom stores in downtown Seattle; Bellevue Square in Bellevue, Wash.; San Francisco Center in San Francisco; Pacific Centre in Vancouver, B.C.; Michigan Avenue in Chicago; The Grove in Los Angeles; NorthPark Center in Dallas, and Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va.
The doors represent Nordstrom flagship and high-profile stores and are the same ones used for all pop-in installations at the retailer, according to Olivia Kim, vice president of special projects for the retailer. “The whole idea of pop-in was to test and learn,” she said. “We wanted to put it in front of our larger stores.”
Kim launched the pop-in concept about two-and-a-half years ago and had been in talks with Aēsop for about a year, during which time she managed to woo the beauty company.
“We basically really enjoy her energy,” Millar said of Kim. “It becomes quite contagious and I think she has the ability to break from traditional approaches [to retail].”
For Kim, tapping Aēsop was partly personal.
“Aēsop is a brand I’ve loved for the past couple of years,” she said. “We wanted to be able to share them with our customers.”
The partnership with Nordstrom is the first for Aēsop, which has been in the U.S. for five years and grown to more than 20 stores. A unit at the Culver City, Calif., development Platform and one in Chicago, which marks the company’s first in the Midwest, are among the more recent openings. Another seven or eight doors in the U.S., including ones in Washington and Houston, are expected to open in the next six months, according to Millar. The company expects to open about 12 stores in the U.S. by the end of the year.
“The pop-in really allows us to connect with customers in areas where we have stores now and where we’ll have in the future,” Millar said. “It’s definitely a good chance for us to further what we started, but we definitely have a long way to go [in the U.S.].”
He declined to provide projections for the brand’s U.S. retail business.
“I think the potential for Aēsop in America is great. We have an ambition but not an agenda,” he said. “We’re about really connecting to the community rather than chasing a number. We’re definitely just evolving the brand at a responsible rate.”