Retailer Lynn Steven Relocates And Renovates With A Focus On Clean Beauty
Retailer Lynn Steven is committing to clean beauty after years of selling both clean beauty and clothing, and a renovation and relocation in Vancouver, B.C.
Clean beauty had risen to the top category at the store prior to owner Nicole Dennis Durnin dedicating her business to it, and she figured it made sense to transition to the category before Vancouver became riddled with natural beauty boutiques. Lynn Steven stocks around 15 brands, including bestsellers May Lindstrom, Vintner’s Daughter, RMS Beauty, Kosås and K’pure Natural Body Care.
“I decided I didn’t want to do clothing anymore, and I was either going to close the store or do something completely different and dive head first into the clean beauty market,” says Dennis Durnin. “I thought, ‘Now is the time to set myself up as the green beauty destination in Vancouver.’ We took the leap and moved a block away to a different location that was better suited to beauty.”
The new Powell Street location in the historic neighborhood Gastown covers about 730 square feet, putting its size roughly equal to the spot Lynn Steven occupied since late 2009 on Carrall Street that Le Labo is slated to take over. However, the new location was less expensive to rent, well situated for monthly events and gave Dennis Durnin an opportunity to reimagine Lynn Steven.
“It seemed like a daunting task to make the previous store work for what we wanted it for, and I didn’t want to sink a bunch of money into it,” she says. “I really wanted to create a wellness and community space where I could offer meditation, yoga and workshops. Our old space wasn’t set up for that. So, we jumped on this space. It’s white and basically a box, so it’s perfect for the little items that we carry.”
A makeup table with the brands Kosås, RMS Beauty and Sappho New Paradigm features prominently when customers enter Lynn Steven today. Most of the products available in the store, though, are placed on shelves lining the walls. The space is populated with plants, and Dennis Durnin is creating a lounge area for people to chill for a bit in between checking out products. She’s also adding a neon sign that reads “You Matter” to go along with a large 10 feet by 5 feet mirror hanging in the store.
Lynn Steven revamped its look with the help of design firm Glasfurd & Walker. It moved from brown to grayish blue and pinkish tones for its brand color palette. The name, a reference to Dennis Durnin’s mother and younger brother, was changed from Lynnsteven to Lynn Steven. “I really wanted a refresh. I knew something different had to be done,” she says, emphasizing she sought to retain customers loyal to the store in its earlier iteration while updating the concept.
As Lynn Steven establishes itself as a clean beauty retailer, Dennis Durnin, who discloses the store operates on 50% margins, is on the hunt for brands to build its selection. She details its assortment has gaps for natural hair care, fragrance and men’s products, and beauty tools. She’s especially interested in Canadian vendors. Dennis Durnin tries items from every brand that enters Lynn Steven. whc
“There are so many brands out there, and you can easily jump down a rabbit hole and bring in too much, but we are really trying to curate an edited selection so our customers don’t get overwhelmed, and we don’t either, frankly,” she says. “Somebody needs to really tell me how a brand stands out, and how it’s different from what we already carry.”
Although Lynn Steven’s website currently constitutes a small portion of its sales, Dennis Durnin is intent on growing e-tail component and aims for web revenues to one day outpace those from its brick-and-mortar location. “It’s really difficult to draw people into your store,” says Dennis Durnin. “I feel like people are so busy these days that it’s easier for people to go online. We are hoping that will be our main sales driver, but we have a long way to go.”
Dennis Durnin’s immediate goal is for Lynn Steven to become recognized in Vancouver as a clean beauty resource, but she faces challenges achieving that goal as she schools herself on selling clean beauty merchandise. “I’m very good at the customer service aspect of it, but I have to really educate myself about ingredients to feel confident about passing along information about them to customers. I’m getting better at color matching people to foundation, but I still have a long way to go, and I’m not afraid to admit that to my customers,” she says. “This next year is definitely going to be a lot of learning.”