Bobbi Brown is thinking globally — with a plan that will nearly triple her number of international freestanding stores within the next three years.
“I am looking at the current economy as a reset button, and as a time to reevaluate what, where, when and how,” said Brown, whose newest freestanding store, her 13th, is slated to open in Paris next month. “And it’s about doing the right thing. I am passionate about education, and I also want my stores to be places that make people feel good. That’s the vision: creating a comfortable, eclectic space — sort of a combination of old-fashioned and modern — where people can come and learn and hang out. And having stores is such a great way to test the waters. When you’re in department stores, you have certain rules you have to live by.”
The 800-square-foot Paris store — dubbed, like all of the other freestanding Brown stores, The Studio — will be located at 1 Bis, Rue des Francs Bourgeois in the Marais, noted Sandra Main, senior vice president and general manager, International, for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
The company opened an 1,100-square-foot Studio store at 3-46 Kita-Aoyama, Minata-ku in Tokyo in March and also operates stores in Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The first freestanding Bobbi Brown Studio bowed in Montclair, N.J., in May 2007, and Brown and Main are aiming to open 35 to 40 more freestanding stores globally by the end of 2012.
The central design component of each of the stores is a communal artistry table. Meant to be a play station for grown-up girls, the tables allow consumers to try a wide variety of products, either solo or with the help of friends or makeup artists. Store walls are devoted to several concepts. There is a product wall which features key product categories and brand visuals, and a press-inspiration wall with press clips along with pages from Brown’s sketchbook and concept diary, intended to take consumers through Brown’s creative process. A video area allows consumers to watch videos of Brown’s seasonal inspirations and how-tos. Exclusive limited edition Bobbi Brown items will also be offered each season. A hot pink replica of Brown’s signature is scrawled across each front window.
Eventually, Brown would like to offer lifestyle items in each of her stores, a concept she is test-marketing in her Montclair store with a range of scarves and jewelry — “simple things which make your face look great by bringing out the color in your cheeks or eyes,” she explained. The lifestyle items in the Montclair store are from outside vendors, although Brown isn’t opposed to creating her own. “The right opportunity hasn’t yet come along,” she said.
Each store features a range of personalized services and lessons. The menu includes the VIP Makeup lesson, a one-on-one lesson intended to customize a skin care and makeup routine to the customer’s needs; makeup party workshops, teenage beauty, a class for the 18-and-under set. Services range from $15 (for a brow touch-up) to $250.
Brown is also amping up her Bobbi Brown University program. Designed to teach students to become skilled makeup artists, the program — which began as a series of classes in her Montclair store — is partnering with accredited universities, including Emerson College (Brown’s alma mater) and Montclair State University, to offer college credits for the classes.
“I’m aiming to increase the for-credit program and partner with more colleges and universities,” she said, noting she eventually hopes to have a Bobbi Brown University attached to each of her freestanding stores. “I’m not looking to have the flagship stores on main streets,” she said, adding that she is scouting for space in Washington, D.C. “I’m looking to be the destination.”