The one-stop eco-beauty boutique, newly arrived from New York, wants to be the Tesla of the cosmetics world
On May 23, 2016
Credo’s new store, in NoLIta. The airy, whitewashed space is stocked with artisanal products. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times
When the founders of Credo, a beauty boutique that opened in New York last week, were planning how the store should look, they checked out other green spaces — ones that sold, say, yoga mats made of recycled rubber — and thought a lot about the differences between a Tesla and a Prius.
“We wanted to be Tesla,” said Annie Jackson, Credo’s vice president for merchandising and planning. “We didn’t want the terrariums and the Zen music in our store.”
What Credo, a Sephora-like one-stop shop that opened its first outpost in San Francisco last June, is selling is face creams and eyeliners from companies that don’t use any of the ingredients it says are harmful, like formaldehyde or parabens. The list bans 23 groups of ingredients, like animal products and phthalates, a class of plasticizing chemicals.
Credo Beauty in NoLita, 9 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012
Shashi Batra, the founder and chief executive, who once worked at Sephora, often cites the statistic that Europe has banned 1,400 cosmetic ingredients, while the United States forbids only 11.
But what Credo is really selling is the idea of switching up your beauty routine to one that seems healthier in a way that won’t take you far out of your comfort zone, much as Whole Foods did with groceries or Gwyneth Paltrow does with everything. This is the kind of wellness aimed at those who recycle their Nespresso pods.
In general, when it comes to knowing if what is in your moisturizing balm is bad for you, it’s a murky, marketing-driven world. The Food and Drug Administration oversees only certain topical products like sunscreen, and other than requiring that labels don’t misstate benefits, it lets the beauty industry regulate itself. Words like natural, nontoxic and safe have no official or legal meaning when it comes to cosmetic labeling, and dermatologists routinely caution that people can be allergic to any ingredient, natural or not.
The Credo brand promise
Mr. Batra deliberately puts his stores near beloved — and definitely not chemical-free — beauty companies. (The San Francisco store is close to NARS Cosmetics and the New York store is near Le Labo fragrances.)
“We want you to buy all of the brands you love and then buy ours,” he said. “We don’t want to dis the brand you love.”
The new store, at 9 Prince Street in NoLIta, is marked by a bright blue storefront, with windows big enough to please any exhibitionist. In the airy, whitewashed space, blond-wood display cases are stocked with artisanal products, all with sleek logos and modern wrapping — skin care on one side of the store, makeup on the other. Nothing is made of hemp.
The store’s skin-care products can be found on one side, cosmetics on the other.
Some brands tend to have personal back stories, like Suntegrity Skincare, a line of plant-derived sunscreen that was developed after the founder’s mother died from skin cancer. The green skin-care doyenne Tata Harper’s line is front and center, and there are hard-to-find natural products like gel eyeliners (made by Evelyn Iona) and roll-on deodorants (from True Organic of Sweden). Credo also carries kohl eyeliners and glossy eye shadows by the makeup artist Jillian Dempsey (she’s planning to sculpt a display case for the products herself).
“We don’t spend a lot of time going off on a tangent about why it’s good for you,” Mr. Batra said. “You just come in, say you want a good moisturizer and SPF, and we get you a good moisturizer and SPF.” The store also offers brow waxing, mini facials and makeup touch ups.
“It’s still totally about beauty,” Ms. Jackson said. “We want to tap into that emotional part of buying beauty. We want customers to buy an $18 lip gloss, throw it in their bag and feel happy.”
Rose-Marie Swift, a makeup artist and the founder of the organic color cosmetics line RMS Beauty, who has her products at Credo, says she tends to prefer stores with both green and mainstream brands because her products sell better there. “We need to be next to where the Chanel and Crème de la Mer are,” she said. “No one’s interested in the hippie thing.”
But Ms. Swift thinks Credo could be the exception. “Credo is doing it right because they’re making it look like you’re walking into Barneys,” she said. “They’re making it look chic.”
Article of the New York Times, on May 22. 2016