Santa Monica, Calif. — Helena Rubinstein is becoming a California girl one mascara tube at a time. Two months after arriving with 90 stockkeeping units at the eponymous Fred Segal Essentials store here — its first retailer outside of New York — the line is collecting fans and ringing in sales, according to store owner Robin Coe-Hutshing. “We’ve actually been having a surprisingly good response,” she said. “People are not buying just one item.”

The average Essentials purchase of Helena Rubinstein products is about $70. More importantly, Coe-Hutshing added, her customers are returning for more.

The subsequent reorders are good news to Margaret Sharkey, U.S. general manager for Helena Rubinstein, who brought the brand back to this country in 1999 after a 15-year absence, setting its comeback with a namesake store and spa in SoHo. It added Bergdorf Goodman last year, but has resisted what Sharkey has called “traditional retail distribution points.”

Los Angeles was a key next step in the company’s strategy to position itself as “an edgy line with a heritage.”

Sharkey said that 25 percent of the brand’s mail-order business is in California, with most based in Los Angeles. “The Los Angeles customer is more of a beauty sister to New York, from a glamour point of view. They’re much more closer in their attitudes toward beauty and experimenting.”

Coe-Hutshing admits that when Sharkey first approached her in 1999 with introducing the line at Essentials, she was “reticent in thinking it was a good fit for the Fred Segal customer,” a woman who expects the latest or undiscovered finds.

“I hadn’t seen what she had done with it. So she slowly started introducing me to each of the products. It irked me because I didn’t need another line — but here I was really starting to want it. This line has been around since the early 1900s, but it’s now new and exciting.”

Sharkey is obviously pleased with the endorsement. More than half of Helena Rubinstein’s customers are under 35 and “feels very territorial about the brand. She feels almost a comfort level in knowing that it’s a little edgy in the approach but it’s a brand they can trust.”

Coe-Hutshing said her staff is reporting customer request for other Helena Rubinstein products the store now doesn’t carry. Topping the list, however, is the Crescendo Mascara, which retails at $22. Buoyed by the reorders, Sharkey said she and her team are “in the midst of making plans for further expansion” of retail distribution, although she refrained from elaborating.