NEW YORK — The newest beauty boutique to enter the crowded Manhattan market has an edge — a built-in audience.
Bare Escentuals officially opens its 19th boutique, its first in New York, today at 1140 Third Avenue. Although new to the Big Apple, millions of women have been introduced to the Bare Escentuals line via QVC, infomercials and other outlets.
In fact, Bare Escentuals’ president and chief executive officer Leslie Blodgett will co-host a client’s party tonight with QVC’s on-air personality Lisa Robertson, and women from all over the East Coast are expected to attend.
Bare Escentuals is the number one beauty brand on QVC, outranking Urban Decay, Philosophy, Prescriptives and Bourjois. According to Blodgett, Bare Escentuals sold more than $12 million worth of product on one day alone on QVC last December. She said she receives 1,500 e-mails a day from devoted fans.
The 700-square-foot Manhattan store is expected to produce sales of $2 million in its first year, according to industry estimates. The company hopes to have three to four more New York City stores within the next few years. Three other units will open in 2004, including one on Long Island, one in Charlotte, N.C., and one in a Chicago suburb.
Don’t assume New Yorkers are above tuning in to the tube for beauty. “The products always sell out on TV. It will be great to have a store nearby,” said Susan Eba, a Queens resident who has been hooked on the Bare Escentuals BareMinerals makeup.
BareMinerals is expected to be among the bestsellers, according to Vicki Parotino, retail sales manager. Customers coming into the store during the first week of a soft opening were also familiar with the products, which include i.d. BareMineral Cosmetics, bath and body lines and MD Formulations skin care. In addition to exposure on QVC, Bare Escentuals has also been among the top-selling brands at Sephora.com and Ulta stores.
Opening in Manhattan has been a dream of Blodgett’s for several years. A New Yorker, Blodgett sought out a neighborhood feel for the first New York store. The store has an ambience different from the others, which are mostly in shopping centers. A warm wood floor is set off by white cabinetry. There is a table in the center for customers to experiment with the products, a new wrinkle for this store.
Two makeup artists are on hand at all times for instructions on the products. On a recent visit national makeup artist Bravon Pascua demonstrated how to use a wet/dry brush to create a foil look for eyes.
The top sellers, such as brushes, foundations, lip colors and eye shadows, are near the front of the store. There are value-oriented gift sets or customers can create their own.
There will be complimentary champagne and tea served daily and Sunday brunch. To fit the hectic New York lifestyle, there will be free delivery within a 10-block radius. Bare Escentuals hopes to borrow a tactic from nearby Dylan’s Candy Bar and offer its space for Sweet 16 parties or bachelorette soirees.
According to Blodgett, the store doesn’t target any particular age group. There are products for antiaging and products for acne. “Many of our shoppers are tired of the alternatives,” she explained. Pricing ranges from $12 for eye shadow to $20 for foundations in makeup, and $12 to $36 for body care. The body care stretches from massage oils to a faux tanning product. Hands down, BareMinerals is the leading product, ringing up 70 percent of Bare Escentuals’ sales. Celebrity fans include Alicia Keys, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore, according to Blodgett.
Bare Escentuals was founded in 1976 as a mineral and luxury bath and beauty company. Blodgett joined the company 10 years ago after positions with beauty companies including Neutrogena and Max Factor, and oversaw the acquisition of MD Formulations. Under her tutelage, sales have shot up from $6 million to more than $200 million per year.
Blodgett is known for developing close ties with customers — even naming products after them. “I think everyone should wear makeup and make the best of what they have,” she said.