Sephora offers more than 200 brands from established ones like Lancôme to hot newcomers such as Bare Escentuals.
(Image of Sephora store located, Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor, Michigan - Wikipedia.com - All Rights Reserved)
The products are displayed in over 5,625 square feet. Shoppers are free to experiment, try on the makeup, spray the fragrances and ask for expert advice as they search for that perfect product.
The first Sephora opened in Toronto in 2004. Marie-Christine Marchives, president of Sephora Canada, says the company decided last year to open new stores across the country to meet growing demand. The Ottawa store brings the total to 10, with two more to open by the end of June.
"We decided last year to open faster and to open in all the big cities and Ottawa is a big city. We think we have a client waiting for us," says Marchives, who moved to Montreal in February 2007 after heading up Sephora France.
She credits the stores' popularity to the large brand selection, well-trained staff and product organization. Instead of arranging items by brand, they're organized by type -- perfumes with perfumes, hair products with hair products.
"It's not only about beauty, I think the world cares about the whole natural movement, and beauty is part of that," says Marchives.
The next trend, she predicts, will be for "high-tech" gadgets, such as the No!No! advertised for $250 in Sephora's spring catalogue. The device uses "revolutionary heat technology" to remove and destroy unwanted hair.
While some critics complain Sephora can be expensive, Marchives points out lipsticks start as low as $8, and in almost every category there are items for $30 or less.
The company's target audience is women -- "mother and daughter," says Marchives, with old favourites like Guerlain, Lancôme, Dior and anti-aging products for mom and hip lines like Smashbox and Stila for daughter.
While all these brands are available at other stores, many of Sephora's popular lines are exclusive, including Make Up For Ever, LORAC and the new Laura Geller makeup. Sephora also carries products for men and for children.
The Ottawa store will sell three lines exclusive to Sephora Canada which include Carrotte, a line for babies, Cake Beauty makeup and B. Kamins skin care. Other Canadian lines include Cargo, and Clean and Dessert Beauty, the latter two by Ottawa cosmetics entrepreneur Randi Shinder, which are also sold abroad.
However, Sephora won't be selling two new Ottawa products such Mistura makeup and Revolution Organics skin care. "I've heard about them, but no one has come to see us to present these brands," says Marchives. As well, she says all stores carry the same products, so the Ottawa store won't carry any unique brands. "We try to have the same assortment in all the stores because there's no reason to give more choice to Toronto than to Alberta than to Quebec."
Only products that offer an innovative idea and then pass safety and efficacy tests are considered for placement on Sephora shelves. "We really want the new," says Marchives. "If it's not trendy, we don't take it."
Started in France in 1969 and owned by luxury retail giant LVMH since 1997, Sephora is now one of the largest beauty retailers in the world (a little-known -- in Canada, anyway -- Brazilian company called O Boticário is No.1, followed by the Body Shop).
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