New Store Field Introduces Shoppers In Downtown Augusta To Indie Beauty
Jennifer Tinsley wasn’t thrilled indie beauty retail was so far afield in Augusta, Ga. She opened the store Field to remedy that problem.
The 1,100-square-foot space is filled with products from 45 emerging brands, including Clove + Hallow, Black Girl Sunscreen, Aisling Organic, Shaffali, HollyBeth Organics, Sanctuary Beauty, Rouge & Rye, and Jules and Esther. To be considered for Field’s selection, brands must be vegan, cruelty-free and owned by independent entrepreneurs.
“People can buy all the products I sell online, and they can get it there for the exact same price, but they can’t talk to me by doing that, and get my educated opinion about the products and their effectiveness. I practically offer a skincare consult every time someone comes in,” says Tinsley. “I personally use most of the products because, through the vetting process, I wanted to get to know them all.”
Tinsley’s indie beauty experience proceeds the store, which has been operational less than a month and launches officially on Oct. 5. In 2015, she introduced an indie brand named Field Botanicals, now shortened to Field. Originally a side hustle while Tinsley stuck to her government job in regional planning and community development, she committed to Field full-time last year and retooled the brand to concentrate on three items: fragrance mist Smell My Bod, odor-busting foot spray Smell My Foot and natural deodorant Smell My Pits.
“We need to preserve the good bacteria on our skin. We don’t need to be washing our hair every day and the oils off of our body. It’s not necessarily healthy for us to wash every day, but we don’t want to smell bad. No one wants to stink,” says Tinsley. “You can use these products without having to worry about smelling bad, and they’re fun. I’m not uptight by any means – I’m kind of goofy, and I drop F-bombs – and these products reflect that.” She notes the plan is for 60% to 70% of Field’s sales to come the direct-to-consumer channel, but she welcomes clean beauty boutiques and natural grocers for its distribution, too.
“People can buy all the products I sell online, and they can get it there for the exact same price, but they can’t talk to me by doing that, and get my educated opinion about the products and their effectiveness. I practically offer a skincare consult every time someone comes in.”
Tinsley’s brand, of course, isn’t her sole focus at the moment. Field’s short retail history started in March with an Instagram post by Shannon Monsoon, a friend of Tinsley’s who ran nutrition studio in the spot Field calls home today. The post relayed that Monsoon was moving to Washington, D.C. Tinsley immediately jumped at the chance to secure the retail unit Monsoon was leaving behind.
“I had coveted the space. It was perfect for what I wanted to do,” says Tinsley. Dating back to 1928, the space was occupied by a shop selling Schwinn bikes until five years ago – a Schwinn hanging in Field’s window harkens back to its heritage – and resembles an urban loft apartment with wood beams and exposed utilities.
On 12th Street right off Broad Street, the main drag in downtown Augusta, Field’s location is at the heart of the city’s revitalization efforts. Tinsley mentions a Hyatt Place hotel is going up nearby and TaxSlayer is constructing its headquarters in the neighborhood. “It’s buzzing. You can almost feel it when you go downtown. You see people renovating buildings everywhere,” she says. “I wanted to be on the ground floor of that growth.”
Tinsley spent roughly $22,000 to spiff up Field’s space and buy furniture for it. “It’s absolutely beautiful to walk into it. It’s simple and pristine. People come in and say, ‘I’m so glad it’s not boho or decorated like a craft fair,’” she says. “I wanted the products to really stand out on the shelves.”
“People come in and say, ‘What’s indie beauty?’ I tell them it’s about smaller brands. They may not have major distribution or be in Ulta’s or Sephora’s, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t high-quality brands that know what they’re doing.”
To find brands for Field, Tinsley went to Indie Beauty Expo in Dallas and searched on the wholesale merchandise platform Faire. Early on, the store’s sales are balanced between the skincare, makeup and bath categories. “The sales so far and customer feedback have exceeded my expectations. I’m pleased about the response from the community, where there’s obviously been a need,” says Tinsley. Her sales goal for Field is $8,000 to $10,000 monthly.
Tinsley is tapping social media to raise awareness about the store. She’s not afraid to ask customers if she can share pictures of them on Instagram Stories to help news of Field spread virally in the local area. To draw people to the store, Field will also be hosting workshops weekly. Tinsley is particularly keen on meet-the-founder events and allows founders to participate in them over Skype or Zoom. For example, Shaffali founder Shaffali Miglani is scheduled to virtually lead an ayurvedic skincare workshop in November.
Most of Field’s initial patrons aren’t familiar with indie beauty, but the workshops and Tinsley’s customer service break down the concept and inform them about the brands involved. “People come in and say, ‘What’s indie beauty?’” she says. “I tell them it’s about smaller brands. They may not have major distribution or be in Ulta’s or Sephora’s, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t high-quality brands that know what they’re doing.”