You could say brook harvey-taylor is a serial entrepreneur. In 1995, she started Pacifica, a candle company that now occupies a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Portland, OR, and employs 85 people. Three years ago, Harvey-Taylor launched Pacifica Natural Skincare, a high-quality natural skincare line that now has annual revenues of $1.5 million and is sold in 250 spas worldwide. Her latest venture, which she opened last November with her sister, Kimberli Harvey, is Pacifica Spa, located in her hometown of Bozeman, MT. Harvey-Taylor is an innovative, intently focused businesswoman who likes to test the waters and is not afraid to pursue a path that runs counter to industry norms. Her spa is only 1,200 square feet, and one of the unique things about it is that 65 percent of the space is devoted to retail. In the front, one side displays candles, the other skincare products—both her lines. In February, two small treatment rooms were opened in the back.
Pacifica candles are used in some of the spas treatments.
"In most spas," says Harvey-Taylor, "only four percent of revenues are retail sales." But, she continues, "as the economy is changing, most people are less apt to spend seventy-five dollars on a treatment. They're more focused on what's economical and going to last. And that's really their skincare." So Harvey-Taylor's approach has not been to focus on treatments but rather on training people to take care of their skin at home. And she is not afraid of losing customers this way. Her logic: Customers well trained to take care of specific skin issues will come back to replace products and buy treatments that address other skin conditions. Harvey-Taylor estimates the spa's first-year revenues will be $150,000; 70 to 85 percent of that will be from retail sales.
Co-owner Kimberli Harvey manages the spa's day-to-day operations.
Her strategy of moving forward in the supply chain—from being solely a to-the-trade supplier of spa products to operating a spa with end-user contact—is part of a broad strategy: to improve relationships with her wholesale spa customers and to grow her skincare brand by controlling the experience of the retail customer. "The spa is an experiment [lab] for treatments, but primarily, it's to see how well [the line] sells at retail, and how we can educate our spa partners to sell retail better and become better retail partners—not just better treatment partners," explains Harvey-Taylor, who develops products and treatments in Portland, OR, while Harvey handles day-to-day operations in Bozeman. "This is a wonderful sounding board for the retail customer's experience."
To pursue the experiment, Harvey-Taylor and Harvey have honed in on a precisely targeted yet underserved customer segment—independent-minded 30-to-40-year-old women suffering from sun damage. "[Our clients] are active, outdoorsy women who have been disenfranchised by the major skincare companies," Harvey-Taylor says. "These women are just now starting to care about their skin, and they don't want to go to department stores. They don't feel comfortable buying serum in a box for ninety-five dollars. Our [most expensive] skincare cream is twenty-eight dollars for a very natural, very effective wrinkle cream."
Simple modern furnishings give the waiting area a relaxed ambience.
The reason Harvey-Taylor can offer such low prices is her limited product support on the trade end of the business. "We developed the line to be one that is supported by back-bar services," she says. "Most people in the skincare industry start with back bar—'Here's what we offer for treatments and training,' and then, 'Here's our retail line.' We say, 'Here's our retail line, we'll support you in training but on a small level.' We have a detailed manual and offer consultations over the phone, but we don't send the trainer out to your spa. It's a huge way of saving cost."
An array of aromatic candles line the walls in the retail area. Customers are encouraged to purchase these and the spa's skincare products to contribute to their own well-being at home.
To market to their 30-something customers, the spa holds monthly training seminars on specific skincare issues. "Women are pretty uneducated about how to take care of their skin," says Harvey. "The seminars are important. We advertise in the paper.
A treatment room sets the stage for body services and facials.
We send out customer mailers. Clients receive a twenty percent iscount on all face and body products, and we sell quite a bit of product during those events. But it's not only about making money," she adds. "It's about networking with women, being familiar with women, making everybody feel comfortable, and respecting them in general."