Could Credo Become the Sephora of Natural Beauty?

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credo_natural_beauty_storeCredo Beauty, which debuted an online presence in February with organic skin-care and non-toxic brands galore, opens the doors to its first retail store San Francisco this week. And the chic new Fillmore Street location, which also focuses exclusively on naturals, could be biggest thing to happen in beauty since Sephora.

Why the bold comparison? Not only will Credo Beauty stock 75 beauty brands that use wild-crafted, natural, and organic ingredients (including tons of makeup that you can try in person!), it has an incredibly credentialed beauty-industry exec at the helm who wants more than cash registers ringing for clean beauty lines. He wants to foster (and help finance) a conscious new era of beauty that values artisanship, the planet, and personal health. So long as it’s all got a chic beauty bow around it.

Credo’s founder is Shashi Batra, who in 1997 was tapped by Steve Bock for a project you might have heard of. “Steve had gotten the great opportunity to come out West to try this little concept called Sephora," says Batra. "I was just about to turn 30 when I was asked to join the founding team. It was an amazing thing to go from zero to $600 million in revenue in six years.”

Even if Sephora doesn’t exactly scream “organic beauty pioneer” to you, Batra’s resume isn’t something to bat a (smoky) eye at. At Sephora, Batra took part in the mass-ification of skin care, accumulating beauty business savvy that will serve him very well as he opens Credo stores in San Francisco, then in Los Angeles or New York City, depending on where Batra lands a piece of real estate first. And with the financing help of his investors, Next World Group, he might just be able to accomplish something the natural beauty world hasn't yet seen: scale. That means getting more lead-free lipstick, five-free nail-polishes, and non-toxic facial serums into the hands of more people nationwide. It's about time.

More reading: The 11 essential online beauty shops for natural and organic products


Witnessing natural beauty’s somewhat fraught retail history

“In the late ‘90s we stocked natural brands like Dr. Hauschka, Jurlique, and even Burt’s Bees. But this was first generation stuff,” Batra laments. “It was more natural than it was beautiful. Some of the packaging looked like dog shampoo, and was leaking and decaying on the shelves.” Eventually it was removed from the stores.

When Batra left Sephora for Victoria Secret Beauty, he got the opportunity to create an organic line from scratch called Pink Organics that he hoped will redeem what had transpired at Sephora. It didn’t. While the formulations were clean and the packaging worked, The Victoria’s Secret customer was completely uninterested, and the line was discontinued in six months.

With Credo, Batra’s finally living out his passion for helping healthy—and white-hot—beauty brands get into the hands of people craving it, and converting new customers through the old brick-and-mortar model. “People need to feel, touch, and try products these products to be convinced how transformative, luxurious, and personally meaningful they can be,” he says.

More reading: The top 7 natural beauty stores from coast to coast


Telling beauty founder stories

“I really wanted to create a platform for this 2.0 natural beauty movement. Of the 75 brands we carry at Credo, most of them didn’t exist five years ago. All of them have some raison d’etre, a passion that inspired the founders,” Batra says.

So Credo’s website has tons of founder videos that tell their brand's stories. When asked which stand out to him most, he doesn’t hesitate: “Yael Alkalay of Red Flower, whose aesthetic and beauty acumen run very deep. Tata Harper has a farm story and phenomenal brand; the trio behind W3LL PEOPLE really gets eco-chic makeup and messaging; Kjaer Weis marries Scandinavian design and luxury; Armour Beauty is just so cool…” You get the feeling he’s kind of in love with them all.

More reading: Spring Serums: 7 new beauty elixirs for a fresh-faced glow

How are you changing how people shop for beauty?

Batra has spent months recruiting licensed aestheticians-makeup artists (dual training is a requirement) and flying in the 70-some brands to train the sales staff. San Francisco will be Credo’s pilot program. “I want to live in that store and understand what’s needed as customers experience it,” he says.


And they’ll be experiencing it on Pacific Heights’ Fillmore Street, where there’s already cool beauty and fashion from cred. “[The space] used to be a Jurlique store," explains Batra. There’s also a treatment room for a jewelbox Tata Harper Spa. Credo will be carefully organized, and half of the offerings will be makeup, making it the perfect spot to get a non-toxic makeover on the way to dinner.

To do good as a business, they'll donate one percent of every beauty purchase to Lipstick Angels, who provide support and non-toxic beauty services to cancer patients. It's all part of Credo's mission to be more than skin deep, and to tap into people’s belief systems.

“There’s a consciousness about what we put on our bodies now. It’s about what’s good for me, good for the planet, and valuing the work of an artisan. All of this dawned on me over time, but most Millennials grow up living it. If Estee Lauder were here today, she’d be much more conscientious,” muses Batra. “No one knew then how bad those mass, chemically-made products are for you.” —Melisse Gelula

Credo Beauty, 2136 Fillmore St., Pacific Heights, San Francisco, 94115,

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