As interest in clean beauty increases from both the customer and industry perspective, 5-year-old retailer Follain is using physical retail to remain a dominant player. The company is opening its first permanent New York store after two successful holiday pop-up locations in Soho and on the Upper East Side in luxury boutique Fivestory.
Follain, which has more than doubled its stores this year (the brand is currently in Boston with two stores and has opened new locations in Seattle, Bethesda and Dallas since April 2018) counts physical retail as 30 percent of total revenue and is on track to open four more stores in 2019. Tara Foley, founder and CEO of Follain, expects those 2019 retail opportunities to maximize the brand’s presence in existing markets.
The New York store, which is located in the West Village and only 350 square feet compared to other locations’ 900-square-foot spaces, was the result of existing demand. The New York metro area is the No. 1 region for Follain for online purchases and drives 15 percent of business for the brand, she said.
“There’s a ton of clean beauty here in New York already, so I wasn’t sure from the outset that we needed to be there, but when I looked at the interest, I couldn’t deny it,” Foley said.
Clean beauty has definitely become more mainstream as of late; according to Nielsen data, customers spent $1.3 billion in sales on natural products last year, which accounted for over 3 percent of the total U.S. personal-care market. That’s up from $230 million in sales in 2013. There’s plenty of competition in New York, with Sephora making a push with its “Clean at Sephora” initiative that debuted in August, featuring dedicated in-store product displays and wellness walls, and other players like CAP Beauty and Credo with existing store presences.
The New York store stocks 70 brands and 600 products, and will primarily carry skin-care and makeup products, versus other categories like bath and body and hair. This was a lesson from the Follain-Fivestory pop-up, said Foley. At the pop-up, the average order value was over $100, and that was the highest average order value for any market during the October 2017 to January 2018 time period.
“The store is a third of the size of our other locations, but we brought our full skin-care range here because that’s what the New York customer, who has been shopping with us in the pop-ups and online, wants,” she said. It includes brands like Tata Harper, May Lindstrom and Vitner’s Daughter, and will help Follain increase its skin-care business — currently skin care accounts for 50 percent of brand revenue. For makeup, though a smaller piece of the business, Follain’s New York store will feature a dedicated, on-site makeup artist to build customer awareness around its assortment of brands like lipstick company Ilia and RMS Beauty.
To get the makeup and skin-care message across, Follain will feature skin-care trial kits of OSEA, Indie Lee, Ursa Major and Follain’s in-house products in the store’s displays at the front of the store. It’ll also feature its co-branded products with Organic Bath Co and OSEA, which are already best sellers for the retailer and, according to Foley, not available at other clean-beauty players in New York.
That Foley has featured skin care and makeup so heavily in New York is a departure of sorts from Follain’s other retail locations, but she expects it to make a difference in foot traffic and conversion. “It’s about creating that custom match-making experience for every customer and every market,” said Foley.