Doing/Living: The next generation of beauty retail has arrived

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

image courtesy of Doing/Living (Anne Hugus Photography)
image courtesy of Doing/Living (Anne Hugus Photography)

Related tags Cosmetics

The innovative “humanity first” retail concept opened its doors on West 57th in New York City last Friday. And, Juliet Silva Yee, the venture’s chief creative officer, tells Cosmetics Design that this is only the beginning of conscious commerce.

The 22,000 square foot building at 218 West 57th Street that was previously home to Lee’s Art Shop has been cleared out and reimaged as Doing/Living. It’s an ingenious location for the new concept shop—that stretch of 57th, extending west of Columbus Circle, is known as Billionaire’s Row.

And as Juliet Silva Yee, the chief creative officer behind Doing/Living explains, “This is an option where artisanal makers and emerging brands can cohabitate with established brands [along the] highly competitive” ​thoroughfare of boutiques and fashion flagship stores.

The brands getting in on the ground floor of Doing/Living may be aiming to compete with the likes of Fendi, Prada, Chanel, and Dior for consumer attention and dollars. But in contrast to those legacy luxury marks, they all have a very different vision of the marketplace, and are aiming to appeal to consumers' sense of community and social responsibility.

Lots of beauty

Doing/Living is about lifestyle brands that are firstly about style and life. As Silva Yee tells Cosmetics Design “Our focus is truly experiential.”​ At Doing/Living consumers engage “not only with the product but [are] integrating it with their experience [of beauty, relaxation, spirituality, etc.].”

On opening day, numerous personal care and cosmetics brands were on hand. Skin care was particularly well represented; but there were a few brands showing hair care and color products too.

Brands on display and selling on Friday included the forest-to-face skin care and active beauty brand Phyte Club; the 10-free nail polish brand Sunday’s; skin care brands Scandic Botanica, Sun and Glory, and Province Apothecary; Whole Clarity with a product portfolio of facial skin care (both with and without SPF) as well as body care; and Mālayā Organics skin care and hair care. The beverage brand Luli Tonix was also selling and sampling at the opening of Doing/Living. That brand bills its products as “beauty food, brain food, mood food, real food.”

More than retail

The newly opened space, which will eventually occupy some five levels of the building, had a pop-up / crafters’ market / tradeshow sensibility to it. On day one, Doing/Living felt like a place of discovery, of individuality, and of community.

The concept goes beyond lifestyle brands, beyond beauty and fashion, to lifestyle itself. Visitors to the opening could participate in yoga or meditation and get a massage. And these sorts of experiences are built into Doing/Living. It’s a place consumers will go to shop and to do activities, to live as it were.

Gallery style art exhibitions are a part of the space too. The day of the opening, the inaugural artist in residence Meghan Keane was there sketching tiny portraits of anyone who dropped in and would pose for a 60 second session. “Kean’s approach to painting people is a conscious act of rendering the previously less seen, visible, and [the] often erased or sidelined, immortal,” ​explains the artist’s statement. “What I feel so strongly when I paint women [is that] it is a radical act of visibility and permanence,” ​emphasizes Keane.

Doing/Living looks to be offering the same sort visibility and permanence to socially conscious, disruptive indie beauty brands.

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