While clean beauty chainlets have been expanding in the across the country and natural makeup and skin care proliferate in megastores like Target, a certain retail brand has been making waves in Canada—and is about to make its debut in the U.S. in a major way.
Saje Natural Wellness, a store with healing vibes that’s known for its signature essential oils and skin care to self-care items for your home, is set to open 30 stores all within the next year, starting with its first American store in Malibu, California, this month.
“It’s been a dream for over 20 years to open a store in the U.S.,” says Kate Ross LeBlanc, co-founder and CEO of Saje. “It just seemed like a natural expansion for us. We know many of our values of wellness are shared here.” Plus, about 20 percent of their online sales were to US customers.
Saje has been around since 1992, and was founded by LeBlanc and her husband Jean Pierre who’d found relief for his chronic back pain through essential oils. Combined with Kate’s passion for retail, it provided the inspiration to share the natural healing method with others.
Two and a half decades and 45 Canadian stores later, Saje has grown into a (gentle) force of well-being. The company, which now makes over 500 products experienced tremendous growth over the past couple of years—and has been named one of Canada’s fastest growing companies by Profit Magazine. “We’ve grown 1,017 percent over the past five years,” says LeBlanc.
So, basically, Saje, could be the next Bath & Body Works. Only its products are made without all the faux-fragrances and problematic ingredients like parabens and sulfates.
“What’s important to us when people visit our stores is that we’re able to connect and find out how you’re feeling today, how can we help you feel better,” says LeBlanc. Her stores with living plant walls and reclaimed wood have a kind of uncluttered airiness, and futuristic “ultrasonic” aromatherapy diffusers scent the air. It says “healthy” with a dash of Sharper Image.
“We want to be able to get you to experience the product in the store, especially since essential oils are so varied.” And they mean it—if you’re feeling sluggish, they might put some Peppermint Halo on your temples or pulse points for a quick recharge. (It tingled on the back of my neck for an hour or so when I tried it around 3:00 p.m. one afternoon.)
While their first roots in the U.S. will be on the coasts, LeBlanc is eyeing cities like Dallas, Denver, and Chicago, and she aims to have at least 150 stores in the U.S.
Regardless of how exponentially Saje spreads its wings, however, the brand is holding on to its personable holistic charm with two hands. “There’s a real unmet need for people to be heard and for true connections,” she says. “Connecting people with the power of healing plants is really rewarding.”
Your 411 on natural beauty stores: Follain, the country’s biggest natural beauty chainlet, just opened in NYC. And now Free People is carrying clean beauty.
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