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NEW YORK — If you ask Emilie Davidson Hoyt, the California owner and creator of Lather beauty products, what she, her husband and their two-year-old daughter are doing these days, her answer may seem a bit matter-of-fact.

“I mean, I wake up on Sunday morning, and my daughter and I make soap,” she laughed. “That’s our life. It’s what we like to do.”

However, what she deemed as simply “just fun” is finally paying off.

The petite blonde recently opened the company’s first combination retail store and spa, Lather Spa, on June 27, at 127 East 57th Street here. The first-floor store encompasses 1,500 square feet and features its own line of products.

Lather has been a popular beauty brand in Los Angeles since its inception in 1999, and Hoyt said she came up with the name because she wanted to find a word with texture behind it.

“I wanted a name with feeling — something that evokes a sense of clean and feeling fresh,” she said last week, curled up on white cushions in the lounge area of the spa.

Products in the line are unisex, although some, like the Almond Shave Crème and Vitamin C Peptide Renewal, are targeted specifically to men. All-natural ingredients in the Lather line, such as bamboo, sweet almonds and lavender, are meant to soothe.

Packaging of the line is clean-cut and simple, and features a block of color representing different body applications. For example, products with blue packages are for the body; orange ones are for the face.

It wasn’t until she noticed Lather beauty products flying off shelves in retail boutiques in California and Arizona that Hoyt decided to bring the brand to the East Coast — complete with a spa for consumers to experience the line.

The spa, which is located in the former Greenhouse Spa space, encompasses 4,500 square feet on four floors. Hoyt invested $1 million in renovations and expects the spa to generate at least $4 million in sales in the first year of operation, $1 million from products and $3 million from services.

One key feature of the spa is a vertical garden of plants — what Hoyt calls the “living wall” — in the lounge area. She explained that when she first entered the space, she wanted to take advantage of the huge skylights and thought the living wall would be a great way to capture incoming light as well as fill an empty wall.

This story first appeared in the July 28, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“It’s not only a great piece of decor, it also functions as an air purifier and cleans all the pollutants out of the air.”

Several black-and-white photographs of sand dunes hang next to the living wall.

“They play well off of each other,” she said of the photos, by local photographer Roberto Dutesco.

Another key feature is an entranceway that connects Lather with well-known hair salon Pierre Michel next door. The two establishments complement each other, and their respective owners have agreed to refer customers to each another.

“This was a huge bonus,” said Hoyt.

Spa treatments include Bamboo Indulgence — a full-body exfoliation and hydration with bamboo-infused Lather products. Waxing and tweezing are available, and Lather has hired several alumni of eyebrow specialist Eliza Petrescu’s crew at the recently shut Avon Salon & Spa here.

Prices range from $65 for a lunch-break facial to $460 for a couple’s package.

Guests may choose from 20 pure essential oils at the Custom Blending Bar in the store to create massage oils or to blend their own bath and body products.

Hoyt said her main goals in opening the spa was not to get her guests to “zone out” by clearing their minds of everything, but to activate a part of the mind that’s been lying dormant for a while.

“I know that when my mind goes blank, I start to think of other things, and sometimes that makes you even more stressed-out,” she said. “I don’t want to make people go blank. I want to captivate people.”

When asked how she hoped her spa would compare with others, Hoyt shrugged her shoulders and said that at the end of the day, her goal was simply to stay true to the brand.

“I am always trying to impart knowledge to our customers. That’s a lot of what I see isn’t going on out there these days,” she said. “We always try to deliver what we promise. What we hope is that you’ll find something unexpected, something delightful. That’s what this spa is all about.”

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