NEW AND NOTEWORTHY AT NEAL’S YARD
Byline: Cassandra Chiacchio
NEW YORK — In an era of technologically advanced skin care, natural product lines like Neal’s Yard Remedies are still holding their own.
In an effort to get the word out to more people, the company has changed its distribution practices and added doors and products.
Neal’s Yard, which was created by Romy Fraser in 1981, has long been a favorite in the United Kingdom. The line includes bath and body products, skin care, hair care and gifts in addition to its collection of alternative medicines. The naturally fragranced and colored products are based on a myriad of herbs and essential oils and many of the products have been approved by the Soil Association, one of the U.K.’s organic certification bodies.
Today, Neal’s Yard Remedies is available in 900 doors worldwide including 300 doors here in the U.S.
As of this year, the company has switched its shipping from a fulfillment center in North Carolina to in-house in Los Angeles. According to Karen Alweil, co-owner of Neal’s Yard Remedies and head of the company’s U.S. distribution, the change has been beneficial. “It’s much more hands-on, and we are more aware of problems than in a fulfillment center,” she said. “Neal’s Yard is very involved with training and talking with customers. When we are closer to the product, we can answer more questions and train our people better to help customers.”
“And,” she continued, “we can get products out at a minute’s notice.”
Alweil said that sales have been positively affected. Industry sources expect the line to reach retail sales of $10 million worldwide this year.
Other changes include placing the line in additional U.S. doors. Currently, locations vary from upscale boutiques like Fred Segal Apothia in Los Angeles to nontraditional beauty venues such as ABC Carpet & Home. “We tried to look at who our customer is and be in the best locations for where these people shop,” said Alweil. “Our line is not gender specific, and not all men go into the Fred Segal apothecary area,” she pointed out. The line is expected to debut in New York’s Henri Bendel this month.
While there are numerous Neal’s Yard boutiques in the U.K., there is only one store in the U.S., located in Greenwich, Conn., and owned by Jane Wotton, co-owner of Neal’s Yard and franchisee. Other locations, including a New York store, are currently in the works. Fraser feels these additional locations are needed in order for the company to be understood in America. “People are taking more responsibility for their own health,” she explained. “By investigating alternatives, people feel that they have more choices.”
For Fraser, who continues to head up product development, education is the most important factor in natural medicine. In fact, in 1996, she set up a natural medicine course that is taught by health care professionals. An accredited aromatherapy class operated through several universities in England and Japan was started this past January. “We are in the midst of trying to trying to do that in the U.S.,” said Alweil.
In the product arena, there were several recent launches. Palmarosa Facial Wash bowed in April. Two new powders, Geranium & Orange and Lavender & Tea Tree, and two new glycerine soaps, Lavender and Citrus, launched in May. Arnica Muscle Salve and a seaweed salt scrub are set to launch in August, as is a new men’s line, which will include a shaving balm, a moisturizer and a bath gel. “We are working on a cologne as well,” added Fraser.
The price points vary, but average $15 at retail.
“I wanted to successfully introduce alternative ways of health care,” said Fraser. “As long as I’m still doing that, I’m happy.”