Art Of Pure Scours Clean Beauty Brands At Home And Abroad To Compile Its Curated Selection

Like most people, Monika Joshi sprang into action when a loved one was suffering. The former real estate investment banker and mother of two spent days and nights researching beauty ingredients to identify the culprits behind her youngest daughter’s sensitive skin and nagging eczema as well as her own. Joshi’s thorough studies led her to becoming the expert friends and family relied on for answers to their skincare questions. In July, Joshi decided to spread product recommendations beyond her close circle to the broader public by launching Art of Pure. Headquartered in Chicago, the emerging e-commerce site mixes international beauty brands like Sydney-based Black Chicken Remedies and Hong Kong-based Purearth with a large stable of domestic clean beauty staples such as Maya Chia, Shiva Rose, Pursoma, Earth Tu Face, Captain Blankenship and Zoe Organics. Joshi sat down with Beauty Independent to discuss her approach to developing a personalized selection for Art of Pure’s shoppers.

What’s the process like to bring new brands to Art of Pure?

It is all about curation. There are a ton of green beauty brands, hundreds. I feel, to bring them into my store, it has to be about a good story and stellar ingredients. I try all the products, and they have to do what they set out to do. There should be no compromise on that.

How do you suggest a product without claiming that it will cure certain conditions like eczema?

There is a fine line that you cannot cross, and that’s the key that we keep in mind when we’re talking about Moon Juice or some potion. We don’t really claim that, “This is so great because it does this.” We won’t blatantly say that, but we will say, “It is reported to” or “It could.” We will make it sound like, “It has helped with this,” but it could be a different outcome for different people.

art of pure
Monika Joshi

 Do you write product descriptions and bullet points on Art of Pure or do they come from product copy?

Oh no, I write those. Those really are the points that make [the shop] worthwhile, in my opinion. It could be the ingredients that set them apart. It could be the texture or how it’s processed, manufactured or sourced. Those things truly stand out to me. Those are the reasons why I love them. It’s something I put out there to help with our definition of why this is on our site and why we think this is an amazing product, and why you should be trying it.

What are your bestselling brands?

UMA Oils does generally well. There’s another, lesser-known brand called Purearth. It’s based on Ayurvedic principles. The brand is amazing. These lesser-known international brands are things I’d like to focus on bringing into my website.

How does your e-commerce shop distinguish itself from other clean beauty shops?

I’d like to set mine apart with these lesser-known brands that I would carry that wouldn’t be available everywhere.

What’s your strategy when it comes to getting international brands?

The strategy for one is obviously making sure that these products and ingredients pass the test that we have, just making sure the ingredients are absolutely clean, [and] making sure that the products do work and that the ingredients are absolutely phenomenal. From there, it’s just talking about what they want to do. We have varying discussions with a couple of Indian brands, which are pretty much based on Ayurvedic principles. I really do believe in Ayurveda and the power of it. I feel like those brands have something so different to offer and a lot of people are interested in it.

Art of Pure

Does that come with a specific set of challenges?

There are a lot of legal [issues] and customs, so it’s kind of working through all of those aspects to bring them all here.

Does the international component present a challenge for selling these products?

It goes back to education. Those lesser-known brands have to be something that we need to educate consumers and readers about because these products are not widely available, and they’re not popular like all these other brands are, where the people will jump to your website just because you carry that brand. It’s about education. I’s about getting the word out. It’s partnering with the brand in that way where they can also strategize a marketing effort with you and support it. We like to partner with brands that are willing and able to do that, and brands that we know are sellable.

What is your top beauty category, and what percentage does it make up of your business?

Skincare and wellness brands go hand-in-hand, pretty much. They make up around 60% of the business.

Are there any new techniques you are trying to bring customers in to Art of Pure?

We’re doing a bunch of pop-ups in and around Chicago. We’re going to be in other cities around the country as well, hopefully starting next year. We do see more people, more consumers, more interest from people who haven’t heard of us, and we hope to build awareness.

Art of Pure

Where are you hosting the pop-up shops?

We had a pop-up at Chill. It’s a yoga and meditation place in Chicago. Gorgeous place, absolutely stunning. They had a ton of customers rolling in over the weekend. This is the kind of place we like to see our pop-ups in. We feel those customers would value what we have to offer. Those customers are also the ones searching for products like these — clean products — or want to be introduced. We’ve had a great response. At the same time, we have a pop-up planned in Athleta. I think it goes with that the consumer group that we’re trying to appeal to, which is yoga-going people who believe in meditation and wellness.

Is there a demographic you’re trying to target?

Roughly 25- to 45- or 50- year-olds. Women, in general. They can be anybody. My babysitter, who is 21, she loves these products, but she’s also one of those people who is into yoga and fitness. She’s one of those customers, but doesn’t fit the profile. I think it’s more about the interest and where you find these consumers.

Do your products complement the interest in wellness?

It’s all complementary. A lot of the meditation and yoga people do believe in the supplements, and that’s why we obviously do have them. But they also believe if you’re going to put anything on your body, it should be good for you. In that way, they both go hand-in-hand. As a strategy, we are going in a direction of carrying more of those brands, like ingestibles or products based on healing the body from within or Ayurvedic principles.

Do you have sample requirements with your brands?

We don’t have a requirement, although, if they are offered, we like to get our hands on them. Customers can always request samples with every order. What we do is just include them in smaller containers and make them by hand.

Does it take a lot of time to make the samples?

It’s not so bad. As we get the orders and we get requests for certain products, we make them. A lot of times customers don’t really request anything, so we kind of make sure we’re including samples that are complementary to what they have ordered. It helps them discover other brands and other products. Some of these brands provide their own samples, so that helps obviously. Others we quickly make and, within a day or two, our orders are out. We try to be very consciousness about the fact that we like to offer products that make sense for them based on what they have purchased. We’ll try to see if there’s anything they would appreciate.

What percentage of Art of Pure customers are repeat customers?

A good 10% to 15%. We offer loyalty points. Samples that we offer convert some people. We offer coupons every once in a while. There are some people who appreciate our customer service, which also helps.

Is the loyalty program gaining traction?

It is. Most people who buy from us do sign up for the loyalty program.

What are your goals for Art of Pure?

Our goals are to bring in some more brands, diversify some of our offerings and solidify our thoughts about being more of a wellness website. We want to promote products help with health and further the education. We want to have dialogues about the things we believe in and things people value. We want to keep putting good content out there. We want to bring in more brands that we truly connect with.