Hot Stuff

Hot Business: Teen Beauty Store

Before you turn your nose up at the originality of a beauty store, do you know how many currently cater to young girls? Michael Wood of Teenage Research Unlimited affirms the need: "Teens like to test products before purchasing them-that's part of the fun." But full-force fun can't be had in a department or drug store. Teen girls need a place just for them.

Enter Patsy and Tony Hirsch, both 43, owners of teen-targeted beauty and multimedia store Skin Market. Their 9-month-old Los Angeles favorite among young hipsters took "a lot" of start-up capital, says Tony, who notes developing a line of 1,000 beauty products is costly. But the response has been overwhelming--so much so that, by request, Skin Market now hosts after-hours birthday parties where girls can get makeovers, listen to music and read magazines, all for a minimum purchase requirement.

"We understand [from being the parents of two girls-a teen and a tween] what it's like to be a teenage girl with dysfunctional families, [loser] boyfriends, zits and insecurities," says Tony. "And we built a store around that."

So far, offerings include music, lifestyle books and beauty products-even break-up kits with voodoo dolls-in a comfy couch setting lighted by throwback lamps and TV screens. And unlike in most department stores, Britney Spears and Madonna help supply background music. Skin Market's online presence is currently in the works--a good thing, because in this day and age, an interactive Web site (think heavy content with personalized advice for using products and e-commerce capabilities) that complements your brick-and-mortar concept is a must for grabbing teens' attention. Says Wood, "You can't compete against it."

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Stuff.

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