When Sephora announced it was leaving 650 JC Penney stores, Penney had to reinvent the wheel.
The Texas-based department store chain needed a new concept of beauty – and it had to do so while facing a pandemic and bankruptcy reorganization that gave it new owners.
JCPenney Beauty debuted this week on jcp.com and at 10 Penney stores, including two in Texas at Town East Mall in Mesquite and La Plaza Mall in McAllen.
Sephora has already opened in 150 Kohl’s stores. The large deployment of Penney will take place in the second half of 2022 at the end of the Sephora contract, said Michelle Wlazlo, director of merchandising at Penney.
JCP Beauty is a bright and bright section of the store that is organized in such a way that shoppers keep discovering something new around the corner.
Wlazlo is committed to creating a beauty department that represents Penney’s diverse clientele. The depth of the product was as important as the manufacturers of the brands. Penney’s new beauty concept gives many independent brands their first foray into retail.
Following the murder of George Floyd last year and the summer of protests, consumers had come to demand diversity and inclusion of the brand. Wlazlo got some help from Nykaio Greico, an experienced beauty executive.
Greico created his own skincare line, nykaio Beauty, almost 20 years ago. It is now owned by Unilever and sold through Target, and Greico is helping entrepreneurs navigate the crowded beauty industry as the co-founder of Thirteen Moon, an inclusive e-commerce site established last year.
Thirteen Lune brought 39 lines to the Penney mix, all new brands and 90% of them are BIPOC founded brands.
BIPOC, an acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, is a trending term for a 119-year-old department store.
âRooted in inclusiveness, JCPenney Beauty was born out of direct feedback from our clients,â said Wlazlo.
Of Penney’s beauty assortment, Wlazlo says, âThis is America. “
One of the new brands featured at JCPenney Beauty is Prados Beauty, based in New Mexico. Founder Cece Meadows has a cultural background that had not been represented in the beauty industry.
âI am so proud to be the first Xicana and native owned beauty brand sold in a major retailer and that our customers can walk into a megastore and buy our products easily,â she said. âAccessibility is the key. “
Meadows is an army bride who said that during her family’s multiple moves, there was always a familiar JC Penney store nearby. She worked in finance before starting her business and said her office wardrobe was Penney’s Worthington.
JCPenney Beauty’s 170 new and well-known brands assortment includes products for women and men in makeup, skin care, hair care, styling tools, perfumes, nail care and products. for bath and body, with prices ranging from mass market to prestige.
The mix includes exclusive brands, such as Makeup Geek and Mirabella. And established brands like Buttah and Vernon Francois have also said yes and are supporting Penney’s new effort.
Stories about JCPenney Beauty’s Thirteen Moon brands, which also include founders from Southeast Asia and East Asia, are featured on the shelves.
Most of the brands sold on the Treize Lune de Greico website are based on family traditions. Greico learned from his coffee-growing grandmother in Kenya, who shared her skin secrets with her about using restorative oils.
Greico wants to facilitate the access of entrepreneurs to the market.
âI launched my first brand when I was 20. It took me 18 years to complete so many challenges for a woman of color. It was harder to put on the shelves, âshe said.
While 90% of Thirteen Moon brands are created by “the founders of Black and Brown, the products resonate with people from all walks of life,” said Greico. She remembers early rejection because her skin care brand was aimed at a certain skin tone.
She replied, “I have used products that are not for black women all my life.”
Greico says she is determined not to go back. “I now see the doors opening and I am so excited about this partnership with Penney, which represents something genuine,” she said. âIt’s a place of real discovery. Beauty can no longer turn back the clock with separate aisles.
In its last full year as a publicly traded company in 2019, JC Penney’s women’s accessories, including Sephora boutiques, accounted for 13% of its total sales of $ 10.7 billion. After the bankruptcy, the business is much smaller after the permanent closure of more than 150 stores.
Wlazlo joined Penney as Director of Merchandising in early 2019 and is one of the few senior executives at the retailer to bridge the gap between the old Penney and the new owners. Penney was acquired last year as part of its bankruptcy reorganization by mall owners Simon and Brookfield.
She was also the face of the brand. Penney’s interim CEO and chief investment officer at Simon, Stanley Shashoua, remains under the radar.
Wlazlo introduced several brands to the home and apparel industry over the past year as company staff worked from home and temporary offices at a former Penney store in Lewisville.
Penney is no longer reporting a profit, but Wlazlo said, âWe are doing extremely well. We have a loyal clientele. “
With JCPenney Beauty, Penney tries to stand out in a hyper-competitive environment. Ulta, which operates 1,250 stores, said this week that it plans to build 50 stores per year, including a smaller concept, and will have 100 stores in Target stores by the end of the year. . Kohl’s already has 150 Sephora stores and will eventually expand them to 800 stores.
Beauty retailers are also highlighting their diversity efforts. Ulta CEO Dave Kimbell has aggressively pushed the company to sell more âblack, Latin and Asian founders,â and Ulta recently worked with Modern Salon to style the first transgender cover model.
Sephora said this summer that it is adding more black-owned brands and that these companies now account for 15% of its social and digital marketing content.
But while Penney is the beauty newbie, after a 15-year relationship with Sephora, his partnership with Thirteen Lune is making him trending in his support for the founders of BIPOC.
Prados founder Meadows was able to view the new beauty section at Penney’s Whittier, Calif., Last week and said that Penney “amplifies and gives space – real space – to BIPOC brands.”
âIt’s innovative and it’s creating real change in the retail world,â Meadows said.
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