Former Onda Beauty Colleagues Open Brooklyn Store And Spa Rowm Beauty

Former Onda Beauty colleagues Mariless Gutierrez and Rowaida Younes have opened premium spa and retail concept Rowm Beauty in Brooklyn.

The 1,000-square-foot space, which made its debut in February, couples two treatment rooms with a retail area that stocks 26 prestige beauty brands across skincare, haircare, bath and body, fragrance and makeup. Marie Veronique, Dr. Alkaitis, Tammy Fender, Alpha-H, The Outset and Cosmetics 27 are early bestsellers. Rowm carries accessories as well as beauty products.  

Getting back into beauty retail was a no-brainer for Gutierrez and Younes, who previously served as director of merchandising and director of retail at clean beauty store Onda Beauty, respectively. In October last year, former Onda Beauty co-founder Larissa Thomson reopened the business after purchasing it out of bankruptcy from the biotechnology company Amyris, which had shuttered it. Gutierrez and Younes didn’t return to Onda Beauty.

“We love Onda past and present, and in many ways it taught me so much about clean beauty,” says Younes. “I adopted this lifestyle as an extension of my own life and worked hard with the Onda team to build our community of clean life lovers. We also met so many fantastic vendors that depend on a prescriptive sales approach. So, I couldn’t think of any reason why we needed to give it up, and Mariless and I are perfectly synced for partnership.”

Gutierrez and Younes aren’t the only Onda alumni to strike out on their own since Amyris shed non-core assets to concentrate on biotech. In January former Onda president Jane Fernandez reopened luxury beauty store Sommetbeauty in Upper Manhattan following a brief tenure in Onda’s original Tribeca location last year.

Setting up shop in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn was a strategic move for Rowm. According to Younes, beauty retail is underrepresented in the neighbored compared to Manhattan. Rowm’s primary customers are well-heeled parents and grandparents.

As clean beauty becomes less of a differentiator, Rowm, a combination of the Scandinavian word “ro,” which translates to tranquility, and the spiritual meaning of the letter “m,” which is linked to water and motherhood, is leaning on curation, community, experience and customer service as its key business pillars. Gutierrez says, “We want to be part of the fabric of the neighborhood and a gathering place for our customers where they can speak with someone who is passionate and knowledgeable about not just what we offer, but about wellness in general.” 

Co-founders Mariless Gutierrez & Rowaida Younes
Rowm Beauty co-founders and co-owners Mariless Gutierrez and Rowaida Younes

Unlike Onda Beauty and other clean beauty retail trailblazers, Rowm doesn’t have a list of banned ingredients that brands must adhere to in order to be stocked on its shelves. Instead, it takes a holistic view of a brand’s DNA when vetting brands for its assortment, honing in on the formula, efficacy and sensorial presentation. 

“Clean beauty is not where it was five or six years ago, and ingredients now are more well-researched and backed by science,” says Gutierrez. “It is up to us to ensure that we are putting forward brands with integrity and a clear positioning on their safety and ingredient formulation. And, ultimately, does the product work? We also want to work with partners that are committed to the critical work of brand building and will provide retail support.”

Younes adds that there should be nuance in the assessment of product formulas. Sometimes a trace amount of a so-called ‘banned ingredient’ has no negative effect on the formulation and or the health of the customer,” she says. “The context of such an ingredient and why it’s incorporated into the formulation must be considered before dismissing the product altogether.”

So far, products account for approximately 55% of Rowm’s sales, and facials make up the balance. Introduced in late March, its spa menu includes $200 60-minute men’s facials, $250 60-minute dermaplanning facials and $360 90-minute buccal facials, among other services. The services are leading to sticky customers. Gutierrez says Rowm averages a 20% revisit rate for facials. It generally completes between 15 and 20 facials a week. 

Rowm’s Signature facial incorporating microcurrent and oxygen therapy is its most popular treatment. It’s priced at $290 for 60 minutes and $400 for 90 minutes, and customers can integrate buccal massage therapy for an extra $85 and dermaplanning for an extra $100. Rowm’s facials are centered on manual massage and lymphatic drainage. 

Rowm has collaborated with brand partners on limited-edition facials. For Mother’s Day, it partnered with Furtuna Skin on a 30-minute facial. Customers were gifted deluxe samples from the brand following the treatment. It’s set to launch a 30-minute treatment with the brand Dr. Alkaitis on June 15. 

While Rowm seeks out brands and treatments with perennial appeal, it isn’t immune to the pull of trends. Gutierrez singles out the “skinification” of body, hair and makeup products as influential in guiding Rowm’s curation. New treatment innovations such as BioRePeel, a chemical peel that’s touted as having minimal downtime for the customer, are stirring interest at the retailer. One of its newest treatments, The Renew Peel, features BioRePeel and is priced at $350 for 60 minutes. The retailer recommends a series of four sessions of The Renew Peel within seven to 10 days for optimal results.

Opened in February, Rowm Beauty stocks about 26 prestige beauty brands, including Furtuna Skin, Emma Lewisham, Marie Veronique, Dr. Alkaitis, Tammy Fender, Alpha-H, The Outset and Cosmetics 27, and offers facial treatments.

At a time when small beauty shops are struggling to keep lights on, Rowm’s co-founders are feeling hopeful about its future. The self-funded business began turning a profit three months after opening its doors. 

“Rowaida and I knew going into this that we wanted to be in-store and in front of our customers,” says Gutierrez. “There is no substitute for the direct interaction with our customers and getting to know them personally. We run a very tight ship, and whether it’s one or five stores, we will operate as if we are broke so that we always make thoughtful decisions about money.”

Rowm is looking to expand its assortment into home cleaning products, beauty tools and supplements moving forward, and it aims to go live with an e-commerce website later this year. Massages will be coming to Rowm’s service menu within the next month. Brow services are in the pipeline.

Gutierrez and Younes point to the importance of company culture as the biggest takeaway from their collective time at Onda Beauty. “Gratitude, respect and generosity is exercised daily at Rowm,” says Younes. “Everything starts from the top and trickles down.”