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Advocacy brand Beautycounter makes brick-and-mortar debut

BY Marianne Wilson

A fast-growing brand that is an advocate for safer skin care and cleaner cosmetics has opened its first physical store.

Beautycounter, which develops and distributes its own skin care, cosmetics and personal care products, has set up shop in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The 540-sq.-ft. store stocks the brand’s full collection of skin-care regimens and its most popular products, ranging from sunscreens to lipsticks.

Launched in 2013 with a mission “to get safer products into the hands of everyone,” Beautycounter is credited with helping to drive a growing national movement to demand better regulations of the beauty industry. Through its trademarked The Never List, the company prohibits the use of what it describes as “more than 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients” in its products, well beyond the 30 banned by U.S. law. Beautycounter also advocates for stronger cosmetic safety laws which have stood largely unchanged since 1938.

“If our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone, we have to be able to meet customers wherever they are shopping,” said Beautycounter founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew, who sold her early Internet start-up, The Wedding List, to Martha Stewart in 2001. “We know that our story is best told person-to-person, and we are thrilled to add a physical retail store to the progress we’ve made in educating consumers and advocating for better beauty.”

The new store’s design elements are borrowed from Beautycounter’s modern headquarters in Santa Monica, California, mixed with references to vintage New York. Customers can sample brand favorites while seated at an old-school beauty counter (a nod to the brand’s name and reminiscent of stores past).

In addition to product, the store is intended to provide a hub of community engagement for education and Beautycounter’s advocacy efforts. A neon sign that reads “It’s Your Call” points to a custom New York phone booth, complete with a branded “blue pages” phone book with the names and numbers of every member of Congress. In under a minute, customers are automatically connected and can read a provided script to lend their voices in support of better beauty laws.

Beautycounter offers multiple points of education designed to help customers make safer and more-informed choices in their lives beyond the store. iPads highlight facts on the clean beauty industry and give a deeper dive into the company’s rigorous ingredient selection process, product reviews, FAQs, and new launches. Wallet-sized cards with the top 30 most harmful, common ingredients on The Never List are available for customers looking to make safer swaps with the products they already own. And to help customers establish a cleaner routine in their own homes, Beautycounter features a museum-like washroom with suggested replacements from like-minded personal-care product brands. It also provides takeaway “clean maps” to suggest similar businesses in the area.

Beautycounter sells its product online and through a vast network of independent consultants. It previously tested physical retail with summer pop-ups on Nantucket (Massachusetts) and in East Hampton, N.Y. Past and present partners include Target, J.Crew and Goop.

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