Natural beauty has infiltrated the luxury market.
In response, two former Net-a-porter employees have started an e-commerce operation out of Montreal to both explain and distribute select brands. The business, called The Natural Curator, quietly launched in August and is rolling out its first campaign, The Beauty Menu, on Wednesday.
“[There] was a gap in the market that there was no platform where you could buy natural beauty products that had sophistication and modernity,” said Karine Lachapelle, who founded the Montreal-based business with Gabrielle Tanguay. “There was nothing that was a bit more luxury and more visual. Our goal is to make natural beauty the new norm by educating and inspiring our customers with visually enticing images and information that’s easy to read, but also to always keep that modernity and sophistication.”
Enter The Beauty Menu, a campaign that combines images of ingredients on minimalistic white plates with breakdowns that explain what those ingredients aim to do. Brand descriptions are paired with each plate, featured off to the side. The idea is that the ingredients in the products are so good you could almost eat them, Lachapelle said.
“We want to introduce ourselves to the U.S. with this campaign, basically showcasing each of our brands through a plate — it’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek concept — the plate showcases the main ingredients,” Lachapelle said. “More and more people are shopping beauty online and it’s a huge market, but natural beauty is such a new thing and it’s new brands that people have never tried.”
The Natural Curator’s product assortment includes Aila, Antipodes, Briogeo, John Masters Organic, Lily Lolo, Magicstripes, Nourish, Nuori, Patyka, Rituel de Fille, Soleil Toujours, Tenoverten, Uma Oils and Vapour.
The brand list is short, and that is the point.
“It really is a curation of brands. We’re very careful with the brands we’re choosing, we always want to get the next new, big thing,” Lachapelle said.
“There’s too much choice nowadays, it can be a bit overwhelming,” she continued. “There’s a lot of product and a lot of brands to go through. If we want to make natural beauty the norm, we shouldn’t be overwhelming our customers.”
Instead, the business intends to focus on select phases of growth. Right now, that starts with North America. Logistics are extra important for an e-commerce business, Lachapelle said, so The Natural Curator wants to make sure it has honed its North America operations before it jumps to other areas. North America will remain the focus for the next year or two before the next geographic phase — Europe and Asia — Lachapelle said.
“The Internet is a global thing, so for sure we want to make it international,” she said. “We would love to cater to our European clients…the U.K., France, Nordic countries, where natural beauty is really, really big.” Japan, too, is likely on the horizon, as a key market The Natural Curator intends to target within the next five years, according to Lachapelle.
The business is also looking into opening pop-up shops called Beauty Pods, which would allow customers get their hands on products. “It’s important to have a more human connection with your customers, so it’s really something we want to do,” Lachapelle said.
Tying in the education aspect of the business with a digital magazine called The Beauty Report, which would be shoppable and contain content, is also in the works. “We really want to do a beauty report,” Lachapelle said. “Similar to The Edit from Net-a-porter, but…editorial takes up a lot of time and a lot of money and we’re not there yet.”