Prevalent Projects: buying beauty for a furniture and design concept shop

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Floyd and Julia Albee in the Prevalent Projects shop (photo courtesy of Prevalent Projects)
Floyd and Julia Albee in the Prevalent Projects shop (photo courtesy of Prevalent Projects)
Prevalent Projects sells mostly furniture. Yet, co-owner and buyer Julia Albee is pleased to report that fragrance and personal care account for some 15% of the Mill Valley, California – shop’s monthly sales. Cosmetics Design recently checked in with Albee to find out about her beauty retail buying strategy.

The Prevalent Projects concept shop is an extension of Julia and Floyd Albee’s work in residential, commercial, and set design—theirs is a business built on talent, training, sensibility, and style.

“We are a non-toxic home goods store, we love a new modern aesthetic that feels warm and clean,” ​Julia Albee, co-owner of Prevalent Projects tells Cosmetics Design. We have visitors from all over the world honestly. We have lots of repeat locals from all over the Bay Area that are looking for something that’s special, handmade but high quality.”

The packaging, products, and price

“I’m instinctual,”​ says Albee, acknowledging that “I have to be in love with a product to sell it.” ​Of course more quantifiable metrics figure in to her decision making too.

Asked about the importance of beauty product packaging, Albee replies, “I do think about what is aesthetically pleasing, but I also am attracted to packaging that can be reused. The 19–69 candles are in colored glass that looks good as a candle but also as a glass when the candle is finished. I love the graphic design packaging of the D S & Durga candle; Kavi Moltz the [brand’s] co-owner studied architecture at Sci-Arc, the same school as my husband Floyd. Some of the best graphic designers are people with Architecture backgrounds.”

Product quality, she says, “is everything!  In my opinion Grown Alchemist the most high performing organic skin care line on the market.  I feel like I’ve bought tons of products from natural grocery stores and always been disappointed, but Grown Alchemist doesn’t disappoint. The moisturizer really softens my skin, the body wash gently cleans without stripping the skin. I like that’s its organic, holistic, non-toxic, not tested on animals. It’s a major plus that the packaging design is amazing.”

Asked about how product margins and pricing fit into the mix, Albee replies quite practically, saying “Our retail space - Prevalent Projects​ - is in Marin County where commercial rent is some of the highest in the Bay Area. Shelf space is at a premium, and I must have products that not only appeal to customers but have a decent profit margin. $10 products won’t pay the rent. The good news is I love all our lines and feel honored these brands are a part of our offerings.”

A place and space for personal care

“Furniture is the bulk of my business but what I really like is that there’s something for everyone when the walk into Prevalent Projects,” ​says Albee.

Asked to explain why she includes fragrance and personal care items in the shop at all, she tells Cosmetics Design, “I love fragrance and the way it evokes memories in unexpected ways. Fragrance is emotional and incredibly personal. I love the way a candle can transform a mood in a room.  We don’t carry too too much personal care; I try to think, what would I love to find in the ultimate guest bathroom. So, we have candles, fragrance, hand and body soaps and lotions. Anything else is too technical.”

Prevalent Projects sells online as well; and right now, on their apothecary pages, products like Shiva Rose Nectar Body Oil, Grown Alchemist Hand Cream, and 19-69 perfumes and candles are listed. And Albee talked about some of the other products she’s adding soon: “I’m beyond excited! We are going to start carrying Haeckles out of the UK. The line is vegan, and a natural product that is sustainably sourced.”​ And, “I love the new fragrance that 19-69 just came out with called Chronic, it’s a funny play on words. It smells like the freshest grass and with a touch of grapefruit and moss.”

She also tells Cosmetics Design that she’d like to stock “genderless fragrance”​ and that she is “on the hunt for a good nail oil,” ​adding, “My friend gave me an amazing cuticle oil from Korea that I’ve never been able to find again. One of these days!”



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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