ARC, the beauty of tomorrow today, launched as an e-commerce destination in April 2021. Some short months later, on June 23rd 2021, they opened the doors of their flagship retail location, an impressive 500 square meters located in the Sandton City Mall.
CEO, Jamie Lane, who has worked in beauty for two decades in the UK and South Africa says that there was an opportunity to do beauty differently in South Africa, to create a beauty destination that would stand up to international beauty mecca – Sephora. That opportunity has come to fruition in the new ARC store in Sandton, the first of many more planned to open in the next year.
Lane likens the name ARC to the arc of a novel – the story of the protagonist. In his version, the protagonist is their customer whose relationship and story with beauty and brands changes over the course of their life. ARC wants to be in that story and give consumers different ways to connect with beauty and brands throughout that journey.
The store and brand is blue. The colour Lane explains was intentional and intended to create a welcoming spa like atmosphere that is relaxed, non-judgmental, non-obtrusive and ahead of the curve in that the consumer dictates how they choose to interact with the store. Other innovative features of the store are The Pod, an enclosed space where you can get treatments and The Lab, an interactive space for testing new products and expert-hosted masterclasses, that will be live streamed onto their social media platforms.
Both retail and online destinations are filled with the best in luxury makeup, skincare and fragrance from both international and local brands including CHANEL, La Mer, Guerlain, Skin Creamery and Suki Suki Naturals. In addition, ARC has a number of exclusive international brands like Huda Beauty, Kayali, Beauty Blender, Codex, Wishful Skin and Ellis Brooklyn. ARC is also the first retailer to list Dermalogica and offer face mapping.
Last week we visited the days old flagship store for a tour of ARC with CEO Jamie Lane, which can only be described as a beauty lover’s dream store. Though some services are limited or not yet available due to COVID restrictions, there is an abundance of product to discover and many corners to get lost in. Below are the things that stood out for us.
1. The ARC Shopping Bags
Having the option of grabbing a shopping bag from the front of the store to fill with goodies instead of having to juggle them in your hands while browsing is always a win in our books. BUT a bag that sends a message and allows you to set your own boundaries is even better. ARC provides shoppers with two shopping bags to pick – a black and a grey one. The black means you do not want assistance, while the grey indicates you would like some help. This tells their staff whether or not to approach you with assistance. This also takes out the intimidation factor – sometimes you just want to browse without being sold to; other times you want the assistance.
2. The sustainability without judgement ethos
ARC’s sustainability mission is to do beauty better and eventually reach their zero-waste goal. They’re working towards that goal in a number of ways:
Both the shopping bag you can fill and take to the till as well as the shoppers you take home are made in South Africa using recycled plastics. In line with their ethos of creating a non-judgmental space you get to choose how to interact with; they don’t charge you for a shopper but offer an incentive not to choose one by donating R5 to GreenPop if you opt not to take a reusable and recyclable shopper.
They also offer recycling, a rarity in the beauty world. You can bring all beauty empties to their store, and they’ll sort and recycle what can be recycled.
3. The Interactive brand cards
Each brand has a brand card with a short description of the brand and the QR code that takes you to Arc’s e-commerce site where you can learn more about the brand and see if it fits within your personal criteria. They have also made sure prices are easily visible to avoid unease around having to enquire about a purchase price.
4. The customer centric layout
ARC is truly designed with the customer in mind. From the bright cards which tell you what’s new, exclusive to ARC and most loved, to their fragrance wall organised alphabetically so you can easily find the brand you want. These little touches make it more than another beauty store and truly encapsulate their tagline, Ahead of The Curve.
Visit ARC online at www.arcstore.co.za or at their flagship store in Sandton City – entrance by Walnut Grove.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.