“I can’t miss another holiday in NYC. It’s time!” says founder Tara Foley, who researched skin-care formulation and won a retail competition for her business plan for Follain while getting her MBA. The idea for the clean-beauty store, which helped popularize brands like RMS, OSEA, May Lindstrom, and W3LL PEOPLE, was born in New York City five years ago.
Foley's since opened four locations in Boston, Washington, DC, and Nantucket, MA, and she's recently raised money (while eight months pregnant, no less) to continue her expansion into other cities.
The store at 109 Mercer Street will be double the size (1,300 square feet) of the Follain flagship store in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood, and will be open through February. It will have some of the signature elements of the brand’s Instagram-worthy design, like a farm sink for its French apothecary bathroom vibe, a semi-private area for makeup appointments, and walls that are already being adorned with natural beauty education information.
At Follain, products are laid out by category, not by brand, and instead of featuring complete ranges, Foley just stocks what each brand is best at making. That curation is has an important purpose: “In Sephora, the customer thinks, 'That product didn’t work for me,' and she moves on to another product. In a natural beauty store, if a product doesn’t work, she thinks all clean beauty products don’t work.”
That said, business is good. “Skin care and makeup are killing it right now, followed by bath and body,” says Foley, who plans to stock a few brands that still aren’t in NYC yet, though she admits that’s getting harder to do with the number of stores in the city catering to the clean beauty revolution.
What’s her point of difference? “We’re trying to change the shopping experience—it’s a warm, super welcoming and beautiful environment to really help women create skin-care rituals at home. We know it’s a really difficult switch for people [giving up their traditional beauty products]. It’s a lot to take in being told what they’re using isn’t healthy.”
Follain should make that transition a little bit easier for New Yorkers.
Follain, 109 Mercer St., New York, NY 10012, shopfollain.com
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