SHOP TALK: FOUR RETAILERS SHARE THEIR VISIONS

Byline: Alev Aktar / Julie Naughton

Manhattan’s SoHo district, also known to savvy shoppers as Lipstick Alley, isn’t the only neighborhood being invaded by beauty boutiques. Cosmetics retailers are opening up shop in up-and-coming areas of the city such as NoLIta and the meatpacking district.
However, the boutique explosion isn’t confined to New York. Specialty merchants are spreading out across the country, opening solo shops or chains or renovating their existing stores. Here’s a look at the latest retail news:

PREMA NOLITA: Two years ago, opening a beauty boutique in NoLIta, the area north of Little Italy in Manhattan, would have been unthinkable. Now the neighborhood is one of the city’s trendiest shopping districts, and its streets are lined with hip clothing and accessories boutiques and home furnishings shops.
It was at 252 Elizabeth Street that partners Betsy Olum, Celeste Induddi and Marta Baez found the space that would become Prema Nolita, a store and spa dedicated to wellness. “It’s done on an intimate level, so we could sit on a one-on-one basis with people,” said Induddi, a former Escada executive. “We wanted to do something like a home where people could come in and talk. In today’s day and age, you walk into a place and you’re attacked by a bunch of salespeople.”
The partners declined to discuss a sales objective, but sources say that the store could generate more than $500,000 in 2000.
The cozy 600-square-foot shop, which has bamboo floors and cherry-wood shelving, opened in mid-November. The shop carries natural skin- and hair care lines such as Jurlique, Anne Semonin and Weleda, as well as homeopathic remedies and Prema Nolita’s own brand of Pure Essence candles. There are several home fragrance lines, such as the Japanese incense line Shoyeido, and unusual and beautiful items like lavender sachets made of vintage kimono fabrics and pillows that contain buckwheat and lavender.
In the back room, facials and body treatments are offered, using Jurlique or Anne Semonin products. The menu also includes Swedish and Thai massages, shiatsu and reflexology.
The partners are currently at work on a “blending bar,” where customers can add pure essences to base body lotion, shower gel and body oil formulas. Another project is salt scrubs, which can also be spiked with pure essences.
“Essential oils have curative properties, and they treat your psyche, they treat your skin topically, and they treat you internally,” said Induddi. “They’re so much better than synthetics.”

COMPLEXIONS Rx: There aren’t many retail venues where you can buy both cosmetics and chemical peels, but dermatologist Daniel Piacquadio, founder and chairman of Complexions Rx, is out to change that.
“We’re a mix of a spa, cosmetics counter and doctor’s office,” said Piacquadio of the retail chain that he and chief executive officer Susan Danish hope to take national sooner rather than later.
With available treatments ranging from facials to Botox injections, Complexions Rx offers a comprehensive mix of skin care options.
Founded in February 1999, Complexions Rx currently has two Southern California stores: one that opened in October 1999 at the newly revamped The Shops at Mission Viejo, the second up and running since February 1999 at San Diego’s Fashion Valley Mall.
In fact, the company’s business plan calls for 100 locations nationally by the year 2004.
The next locations to open will be in California: “We plan to open four to six more stores this year in California, and we’re looking at locations from San Francisco to Orange County,” Piacquadio said.
It’s no accident that both existing locations are in the upper-middle-class suburbs, where the chain’s target audience — upscale 35-to-50-year-old females — live. It’s something that the young set is also evidently checking out, though: About 25 percent of Complexions Rx’s business comes from females under 35, said Piacquadio.
“That doesn’t surprise me, because our concept is integrated skin care,” he said. “It’s about everything available in skin care, from over-the-counter products to micro-dermabrasion, and it’s about having the flexibility to match up the right treatment for the right skin.”
Each location is staffed by nurse practitioners who undergo 160 hours of Complexions Rx training, and MD’s are a beeper’s call away. A medical director is also present at each space, working in tandem with cosmetics consultants and state-licensed estheticians. And should the need arise, prescriptions for skin-clearing drugs can be issued.
Neither Danish nor Piacquadio would comment on sales figures, although industry sources estimated that each door would do about $1.5 million in 2000.
The company has its own 75-stockkeeping-unit retail skin care line as well as carrying several other retail lines, including Phytologie hair care products and Nailtiques nail care products.
“Good skin is a lifestyle choice,” said Piacquadio. “We try to give our clients the tools for the best possible outcome.”

PERLIER KELEMATA: Perlier Kelemata has delivered a little “Armonie Naturali” to the U.S. In February, the Italian cosmetics names opened their first store here at 436 West Broadway in SoHo. The clean, white space is designed to be relaxing and “open to a new dimension of harmony.”
The 600-square-foot shop sells both Perlier and Kelemata toiletries and skin care, as well as the Victor men’s and women’s fragrance lines. In all, some 350 to 400 different items will be carried.
Perlier products include the famous Natural Recipes line, with its Vanilla, White Almond and Honey flavors, as well as three facial treatment lines for all sensitive and oily and all skin types. Also, look for the Perlier makeup line later this year.
Kelemata offerings include soy-based facial treatment and Aquatherapy, as well as Eye Lab and Lip Lab.
Executives at the company declined to comment on a sales target for the store, but sources say that it could generate more than $500,000 in 2000.

STUDIO 500 AT FRED SEGAL ESSENTIALS: Fred Segal Essentials, the Santa Monica beauty emporium known for its vast assortment of hip products and high level of service, is expanding.
The store has added another 3,300 square feet of space that will be devoted to color cosmetics and makeup-oriented products. The lines available in the new area, called Studio 500, will include Nars, Stila, Make Up For Ever, Body & Soul, Laura Mercier, T. LeClerc, Urban Decay and Tony & Tina.
The products are merchandised in an open-sell set-up, and the area is staffed by professional makeup artists and estheticians. The team of makeup artists will carefully school customers in the “tools of the trade,” so that they can replicate their makeup at home.
Studio 500 will also have treatment rooms in the back, and a variety of services will be available, such as hand massage, foot reflexology, paraffin treatments, spa manicures and pedicures, eyebrow waxing and lash tinting.
The area will have an industrial feel.
At the same time that Studio 500 is being built out, the rest of the Fred Segal Essentials will be renovated.
The skin treatment area is being revamped and expanded, and new lines include Dr. Spiller, Sundari and Therapy Systems.
Robin Coe-Hutshing, owner and director of Fred Segal Essentials, said that with the expansion, beauty sales should spike between 30 percent and 35 percent.

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