Lorde’s New Store Carries Seven Brands And That’s Enough For Founder Rachel Williams
Lorde stocks just enough to keep customers enthralled and satisfied at its new store in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Only seven brands are showcased in the store’s 1,000-square-foot space — Sappho Cosmetics, African Botanics, Jenny Patinkin, Omorovicza, Gressa Skin, Oille and Lily Lolo — and owner Rachel Williams is content not adding more makeup or skincare lines to the assortment. Prior to the store, she found the limited brand roster drew online shoppers to Lorde’s two-year-old e-commerce site.
“Right now, I’m not considering brands. People have reached out, and I tell them not to send me anything. I truly am about less is more,” she says. “I am going to be the retailer committed to not having too many things. I don’t want to ever overwhelm people. I take a lot of time considering the brands that I carry, and I believe that I have the best and not the most. I don’t want to dabble in things just to dabble in them.”
Inside the store, customers can dabble as much as they fancy at what Williams dubs the feasting table containing trays filled with products. They can also relax in cozy mid-century modern chairs abutting a black quartz table. Light floods the space from chandeliers that resemble collections of illuminated sticks and generous windows.
“The store design is clean and simple,” says Williams. “It sounds ridiculous, but I’m so excited about the floor. It’s beautiful polished cement. We had it polished to a finish that looks like a bubbling brook. It’s not reflective, but it has movement. Everything in the store feels naturally grounded.”
A beauty industry veteran and makeup artist, Williams traveled extensively around the country for brands such as Trish McEvoy, Bobbi Brown, Natura Bissé and Laura Mercier. Later, she obtained a license to be an aesthetician, a career transition that led her to question the ingredients in conventional beauty products and seek natural alternatives to them. Many of the natural beauty products Williams discovered weren’t up to her standards.
“I was working for a luxury retailer heading up their spa and beauty boutique, and it occurred to me that I needed to open my own space and house only things that are loving, safe, feel wonderful and that people know will outperform what they had seen before,” she says. “To really have a shift in the beauty industry, you have to have exquisite products that people don’t feel they have to compromise to use. I was determined to find brands that don’t require compromise.”
Omorovicza helped convince Williams that natural beauty products could deliver benefits rivaling their synthetic beauty counterparts. “I will never forget when I tried Omorovicza’s Thermal Cleansing Balm for the first time. It was absolutely magical,” she says. “I had on area on my face that was breaking out for a year, and it cleared up the breakouts in a week.”
Product performance, while paramount, isn’t Williams’ sole rationale for picking a brand up for Lorde. She likes to have strong relationships with brand creators. Williams recounts she met Patinkin as her daughter scoured the American Girl store, and the two women bonded over being mothers. “I truly delve into researching companies and connect with the ones I believe in. Being able to connect with the founders is so meaningful,” she says.
Prior to the premiere of Lorde’s store, Williams performed skincare treatments at a small spa suite. Lorde’s online component constituted merely 25% percent of her revenues overall. Williams estimates that figure will rise to 35% a year from now as the store amplifies customer awareness. At the Lorde location, Williams offers facials, makeup application and waxing. A so-called Gold facial with Omorovicza products is priced at around $200.
Lorde’s store is located in the Uptown Business District in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids. Williams describes the area as residential, but dotted with exercise studios, restaurants and boutiques. “It’s a really fun area to hang out in and walk through,” she says, noting that the customer who strolls over to her store is largely “a fitness-inspired client. It’s someone striving to progress their health.”
Williams reports that shoppers are attracted to Lorde Beauty from across Michigan because it’s generally the lone retailer in the state where the brands it carries are available. “I partnered with brands that didn’t have a desire or need to saturate the area,” she says. “They don’t need to go into every each of this place for their brands to become successful. Like me, the brands I have partnered are about quality over quantity.”
Feature image photo credit: Brian Kelly