St. Ives blends up beauty in New York City

image courtesy of St. Ives

The Unilever brand has set up a pop-up mixing bar in the city this summer. And everyone who drop in can get involved in not only shopping for, but also formulating, mixing, and marketing the brand’s signature skin care products.  

In a storefront on Broadway in SoHo, just up the block from where Prada has the corner shop, St. Ives is now mixing made-to-order face scrubs and body lotions. It’s a good spot. Most days, and especially on weekends, the area is flooded with young people living and spending on trend. And, between Prada and the St.Ives pop-up is the H&M concept shop known as ‘& other stores’, which features a full collection of skin care, body care, and color cosmetics. The beauty section at ‘& other stories’ even has a two-faucet sink prominently mounted on the wall for sampling hand soaps—which is all to say that St.Ives has set up shop in an area where young women are already trying and buying beauty.

Legacy brand

Perhaps most widely known for its Apricot Scrub, St. Ives arrived on the scene in 1955 in Chatsworth, California, where the brand is still based today, according to the company snapshot on

Sold across the US at mass market retailers, drug stores, and super markets St. Ives “offers facial products, including face washes, scrubs, cleansers, moisturizers, and masks; hand and body lotions; and body wash products….for various skin types, such as face blemishes/breakouts, dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity and firmness, redness, and uneven skin textures, as well as for acne, dry and itchy, and extra dry skin problems,” as the snapshot notes.

Now, St. Ives is letting the people decide what’s inside its products (or, the brand is at least giving consumers the semblance of control over the ingredient selection and product formulation process). Shoppers start by selecting to make a face scrub or body lotion. For the lotion, for instance, the options are 'light' and 'rich'. To the lotion a 'skin-loving' ingredient is added (shoppers choose from honey, coconut, or papaya at this step). And then, one of 9 coordinating ingredients (like peach, pistachio, or lime) is mixed in.

Destination beauty

The shop feels rather like a pristine juice smoothie shop, with natural food ingredients displayed on the wall, apothecary jars half-full of add-ins, and blenders hidden under plywood counters. A staff of young women uniformed in peach T-shirts and white aprons greet customers and blend up the product. A digital photo booth and interactive sample vending machine are also part of the experience.  

And, it’s open for a limited time. After six weeks the shop will close and only those who made the trek to SoHo will have a made-to-order lotion or scrub emblazoned with a hello-my-name-is sort of personalized label.

Scrubs and lotions made on site are selling for only $12 and scented St. Ives brand candles are also available for $10.

“The introduction of the St. Ives Mixing Bar is an exciting and completely new way for our fans to experience St. Ives,” Suzanne Palentchar, St. Ives marketing director, says in a media release about the shop.  “Inspired by the best of nature, we're thrilled to unveil the Mixing Bar this summer where guests can create their own unique St. Ives face scrubs and body lotions, all while learning about the benefits our ingredient-led products provide.”

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