San Diego Store En Concordia Knows How To Throw A Clean Beauty Party
Merchant Theresa Renfro was a longtime skeptic of the power of store events. It took throwing her own to change Renfro’s mind.
“I just didn’t think they were important. I thought events were for event spaces,” says the owner of San Diego plant and clean beauty destination En Concordia. “But what I found was it takes a lot of time to answer someone’s questions, put product on them and connect with them about what they want from beauty products. We would have a meeting of the minds, and they would leave. Then, they would connect with other people over products outside the shop. I thought, ‘Why not aggregate everybody and make it a party?’”
In September of last year, the party got started when En Concordia quietly introduced a Cocktails + Clean Beauty event series that it kicked off in earnest in January this year. Every second Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the store invites shoppers to check out beauty merchandise and partake of adult beverages. The concept sprung from drinking vinegars En Concordia carries, which can be mixed with Prosecco, seltzers and spirits for cocktails, that Renfro figured would pair well with natural beauty. The shop carries the beauty brands Herbivore Botanicals, Apoterra, Youth to the People, Erbaviva and Rue De Marli.
“We want you to come in and get green beauty to be ready for the weekend,” says Renfro, estimating 30 to 50 people regularly attend Cocktails + Clean Beauty soirees. “They have a ball. The greatest fun is when there’s cross-talk among strangers. That’s a sign that you have found something that builds community. It begins with, ‘Oh my God, did you try this?’ Clean beauty is a pivot point for people meeting each other.”
En Concordia has slightly tweaked its party formula since the inception of Cocktails + Clean Beauty. The retailer is now sure to emphasize key themes, product categories or items for the evening. For example, an event earlier this month spotlighted the nail lacquer brand Côte and zeroed in on polish trends.
“When we began these events, we were like, ‘Come see clean beauty,’ but there’s a lot to that. We brought it down to a smaller goal,” says Renfro. “You need to focus on what you are offering the crowd that night. If it’s cleansing, let’s just talk cleansing. You could go too deep too fast, but, when you’re meeting new people, you really want to hammer home one thing.”
She adds it’s critical to have lively staff members – En Concordia employs at least three for the events, including a bartender that Renfro shares wins rave reviews – to sustain a festive mood and ample samples to ensure attendees are exposed to the merchandise. “You have to get the product on people. There’s no way around that,” she says, adding, “We have to keep the focus on the product. It’s very easy to connect with someone and talk about kids or trips, but we have to stay focused on the reason we’re there.”
Renfro reveals the Cocktails + Clean Beauty events have had a “huge impact” on En Concordia’s sales. “In two hours, you can do a phenomenal amount of volume in clean beauty. They really do matter to the bottom line,” she says. “They also give us phenomenal market feedback down to what someone feels about how the product comes out of the bottle. This is feedback we can provide to our vendors, and it helps us build relationships with vendors to tell them what we’ve learned.”
Renfro has become so sold on events that she’s doing more. En Concordia has launched a monthly wellness and craft events program on Saturday mornings. It’s hosting flower crown and macramé plant hanging workshops as part of the program. Meanwhile, the Cocktails + Clean Beauty series is scheduled for the rest of the year with events centering on product types, botanical ingredients and product purposes.
“The challenge in today’s marketplace for brick-and-mortar is reaching people. If you want to reach people, just reach them,” says Renfro. “Connect to them, and they will connect to others.”