Organa Beauty & Wellbeing Creates An Omnichannel Hub For Conscious Consumers In The U.K.
Add another retail concept to the burgeoning British green beauty scene.
Organa Beauty & Wellbeing is stepping into the market with an ambitious multilayered business model that’s eventually expected to encompass an e-commerce portal, app, distributorship, pop-ups and permanent retail location. Launching this month, the e-commerce component will showcase a dozen brands, including Antonym, Axiology, Herbal Dynamics Beauty, Handmade Beauty, Forage Botanicals, Olverum, Ikoo, Sarya Couture Makeup, Eleni & Chris and Vitruvian Man.
“I want to be a challenger to Space NK, and have Organa-approved products and education the most important parts of what we do. We want to give people the right knowledge and information, so they are inspired to make the right choices for themselves,” says co-founder Niki Richards. “When people believe they’ve made the right choice, they’re more likely to feel trust and advocate for a product.”
Richards, who combines a fashion and beauty marketing and brand management resume containing stops at L’Oréal, Kurt Geiger and Liz Claiborne with an advanced degree in psychology, started developing Organa last year. In September this year, Stephanie Abrishamchi, a brand consultant and beauty junkie, joined the company as co-founder.
The road to Organa was paved with extensive consumer feedback and research. While she originally thought Organa would concentrate on natural and organic messaging, Richards’ ideas shifted upon hearing how terms such as organic, clean and natural confuse potential customers and learning about the purpose-driven shopping preferences of gen z consumers.
“Organic, natural or clean, many people don’t understand what those mean, but conscious beauty is about being really aware of your lifestyle choices. Organa is about products we feel are good for you and the environment.”
Richards concluded the term conscious beauty rather than clean, natural or organic beauty better broadcasts Organa’s positioning. “Organic, natural or clean, many people don’t understand what those mean, but conscious beauty is about being really aware of your lifestyle choices,” she says. “Organa is about products we feel are good for you and the environment.”
Organa is interested in carrying cruelty-free and vegan brands with products housed in sustainable packaging that are 100% carbon-neutral, and certified organic by organizations like Soil Association and Ecocert. The retailer forbids nearly 50 ingredients, but it allows minute amounts of dimethicone and phenoxyethanol. It’s careful to disclose that not everything it sells will be completely natural.
Although Richards is seeking an array of product price points to ensure Organa provides offerings for price-sensitive customers, she emphasizes it’s a destination for premium products that often may not be available elsewhere in the United Kingdom. On top of stocking brands for its website and upcoming physical outposts, Organa aims to become a leading distributor of organic and natural beauty products in the U.K. It’s sourced several brands so far at Indie Beauty Expo, which is owned by Beauty Independent’s parent company Indie Beauty Media Group, and is looking to dive deeper into ingestible, grooming, home and giftable items.
Organa pledges 2% of the proceeds from product purchases to projects around the world. The initial project is dedicated to erecting a library in Nepal. “We will support projects, not charities, that our community is passionate about,” explains Richards. “We are actually putting the funds toward building something, so people can see where they are going.”
“People’s perceptions of it are that it’s inaccessible, high-priced, and they don’t understand it. When we have done research, people have said, ‘Is there the efficacy you get with more synthetic brands?’ The beginning is a great place to be for brands like us because there’s still a wave to ride.”
A physical manifestation of Organa could arrive as early as February. Three pop-ups are scheduled for next year and a flagship store in London is slated to open in the second half of 2019 or first half of 2020. The pop-ups are going to be situated in surprise locations not necessarily typical for beauty shops. Richards says, “We’re going to be doing more unique venues, so it’s not a traditional high street store, and also we will be doing the pop-ups collaboratively with partners.”
To finance expansion, Organa is planning to fundraise with the goal of accumulating roughly 500,000 pounds or almost $630,000 at the current exchange rate from angel investors. It’s anticipated the money will be focused on Organa’s technology. An app to support its business could be live at the end of 2019.
Organa is getting underway as the organic beauty and wellbeing segment is growing in the U.K. According to the Soil Association, the segment’s sales rose 13% last year. Retailers and e-tailers are jumping at the opportunity to cater to a British customer base that’s increasingly aware of the ingredients they eat and slather on their bodies. House of Green Beauty and Rare Beauty are among the new players in the U.K.’s natural beauty retail and e-commerce field.
Richards asserts it’s a good time to enter the fray because people are just acclimating to natural and organic beauty and wellness merchandise. “We are at the beginning. I think people’s perceptions of it are that it’s inaccessible, high-priced, and they don’t understand it. When we have done research, people have said, ‘Is there the efficacy you get with more synthetic brands?’” she says, stressing the centrality of consumer education to Organa. “The beginning is a great place to be for brands like us because there’s still a wave to ride.”