Despite operating out of modest digs in a 1,400-square-foot salon in Beverly Hills for 13 years, Anastasia Soare has become a global brow guru.
This story first appeared in the November 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Now, with the immigrant gusto that’s propelled her success, Soare is charging ahead with a strategy to cement her reputation as an authority for the whole face with a new 3,100-square-foot location in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood and a wider product assortment encompassing skin care and cosmetics.
“I started to work 20 years ago in this business doing facials and body waxing, not eyebrows, then I migrated to eyebrows because no one was doing them,” said Soare, who came to the U.S. from Romania in 1989. “Of course, I am a woman that can relate to my peers. With the era of cakey makeup gone, we want to still use makeup, but to use it in a way that makes us look younger.”
For regular beauty maintenance, she contends Angelenos mostly seek to avoid traffic, score free parking and get as much done as humanly possible at a single place. That’s why her second outpost offers a full array of facials, hairstyling and brow services priced from $45 to $300, sits next to a shopping center with ample free parking and doesn’t require Brentwood, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Malibu customers to cross the dreaded 405 Freeway.
“Women can spend $500 on a handbag, but if we have to spend $5 on parking we get aggravated,” said Soare, adding on a serious note, “Women are so busy. I love to have a one-stop shop.”
The Brentwood location is bathed in bordeaux and champagne shades, and features elaborate mirrors, fake leather chairs and crystal chandeliers. The look is being replicated elsewhere: Anastasia Beverly Hills has two brow studios at Sephora stores in New York, around 65 within Nordstrom doors and 18 abroad. In the next few years, Soare would like to open salons in New York, Mexico City and perhaps Paris as well.
“I wanted something that will represent who I am: quite elegant, but at the same time not overwhelming. I want my clients to feel comfortable,” said Soare of the Brentwood space, which has four chairs for hair, four chairs for brows, two facial rooms and two manicurist stations at the outset. Soare expects it to net $1 million for the first year.
At retail, the Anastasia Beverly Hills brand is branching out from brows. A versatile serum for a variety of skin types and issues, $45 Line Erasing Serum hit Sephora stores in September and is set to roll out to Nordstrom in December. The serum has a Tibetan goji berry-driven technology called Instalift meant to lift and firm the skin.
For spring at Nordstrom, the Line Erasing Serum will be followed up by $40 Hydrating Oil, which is made up of some 12 different oils such as loveage, borage, rose hips, lavender and jojoba seed, and $40 Sheer Moisture Créme SPF 30 with squalene oil to moisturize, hyaluronic acid to enhance skin elasticity, and tocopherol, an antioxidant to boost skin health. At around 45 Nordstrom doors, Anastasia Beverly Hills products will be displayed in the advanced skin care sections as well as with tower units in the cosmetics departments. In total, the brand is carried at about 800 doors, most notably Ulta, Sephora and Nordstrom.
The serum and the oil has a Balkan Botanical Infusion, a blend of ingredients found in Soare’s native country, including marshmallow leaf, lemon balm leaf and bilberry, and green tea. “We wanted to take a little bit of Anastasia’s heritage and infuse it into the products where it makes sense,” said Reed Cromwell 4th, Anastasia Beverly Hills’ director of global product development and innovation. “It was also going to be bridged across all the categories: brows, skin care and color.”
For color cosmetics, Soare recounted that Sephora was interested in having her rev up eye shadow technology. She has attempted to do so by incorporating skin care ingredients in a $40 Illumin8 Essential Eye Shadow Palette launching for spring at the beauty retailer. The palette’s shadows have the Balkan Botanical Infusion and what Soare is calling the Youthful Synergy Complex of brown algae, diamond core powder, sea whip extract, macadamia derivative and a slew of vitamins, all intended to improve the appearance of skin.
Although Soare has experimented with color cosmetics in her line for a decade, she asserted the brand recognition Anastasia Beverly Hills has reached in the current marketplace attracts people to test her products outside of her brow specialty. It is projected the new product launches will generate $2 million in first-year retail sales. A sampling program of 300,000 packets through Nordstrom and Sephora in-store and online will support the launches.
“We are at an excellent time. We are an established brand and ready to expand. We have the ability to go in many different directions,” said Soare. One direction the expansion isn’t taking her is out of the salon. Soare anticipates doing brows three days a week at the Brentwood location and three days at the Beverly Hills location. “The only time I don’t work is when I sleep,” she said.