Originally founded in 2002 with a small London store on the Kings Road, The Organic Pharmacy was born from an idea its founder had to take beauty into new realms. Focused on the body, mind and environment, the store employed herbalists, pharmacists, homeopaths, and aestheticians to offer a range of wellness and beauty products and advice to shoppers. And The Organic Pharmacy stocked a wealth of own-brand topical beauty products and ingestibles, from night serums and skin peels through to its renowned 10-day detox supplement kit.
“We were very much a new concept back then. Nothing like us existed,” Margo Marrone, pharmacist and founder of The Organic Pharmacy told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
“What I wanted was a place for people to come and feel as if they belonged to a community. It wasn’t just about shopping or buying, it was very much more about expert advice and speaking to someone about health needs,” she said.
Beauty and wellbeing ‘interactive’ store concept
Fast-forward almost 20 years, and The Organic Pharmacy now boasted a network of stores throughout London and had its products stocked in pharmacies around Europe, including Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal. Most recently, it opened a modern flagship concept store on Marylebone High Street in London, UK.
“For the new store, I really wanted to upgrade a little bit. And by upgrade, I mean I wanted to be much more interactive. I wanted people to have the opportunity to really experience the day there,” Marrone said.
The store featured a juice bar, water refill station, a consultation pod, facial station and florist, among many other dedicated spaces where consumers could engage with specialists and purchase holistic wellness products. The Organic Pharmacy concept store would also offer educational events, panel talks, yoga classes and much more once such classes were permitted post-COVID.
“Really, it’s all about empowerment. I think that knowledge is such power; when you have the knowledge, you can decide what to do with it,” Marrone said.
Topical and ingestibles – a balance for beauty wellness
The Organic Pharmacy portfolio was a 50:50 split between topical and ingestible beauty products and Marrone said the plan was to maintain this balance.
“Health and wellness is the core of The Organic Pharmacy. Although people know us for our skin care, which is amazing, the basis is health and wellbeing; whether it’s the health of your skin or your immune system. So, we will continue to harness our expertise, especially as this past year has shown us that if we don’t have health, we really don’t have anything.”
And The Organic Pharmacy’s goal to continue focusing on health across the mind, body, skin and spirit, she said, had become even more relevant during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Particularly when we’re all facing this pandemic, it’s so much more important to look after our bodies. And I’ve always preached about the benefits of detox because it resets the body, boosts the immune system and energy – you feel the difference when you do it. Ingestibles have always been part of our DNA, and always will be.”
The health of the skin was not just dependent on external wellness, she said, rather it depended on “internal wellness”, which also included the health of the mind.
Expansion plans in Italy, France and the US – ‘LA would be the dream’
Marrone said the goal of the company was to expand its retail footprint further, potentially adding additional concept stores across Europe and beyond – all of which would be registered pharmacies.
“LA would be the dream. We had a store in LA for ten years and that always did really well,” she said. The Organic Pharmacy’s LA store closed last year after its ten-year lease ended and COVID-19 curbed moving plans, but the goal was to find a new premises once the crisis had subsided, she said.
“I’d really love to see us expand and grow in the US, which is something that we’re working on quite solidly.”
In Europe, Marrone said Paris or Milan would make sense as concept store destinations for the brand; The Organic Pharmacy’s head office was already located in Milan. But European expansion, she said, would more likely follow product rollouts in existing pharmacy stores and chains.
“We’ve got an expansion plan within the pharmacies in Italy and France already planned. The Italian rollout has already happened – that happened at the beginning of this year. We’ve rolled out into 100 pharmacies in Italy and we plan to do the same in France over the next 12 months.”
These expansions, Marrone said, would primarily be with The Organic Pharmacy’s topical products and a select few ingestibles. “France is quite well developed with beauty ingestibles already, so I think we just want to test [the market] with our key ones.”
But, should The Organic Pharmacy opt to expand into Europe with its concept stores, would the existing retail model work? “I actually do think it could be transported as it is. I think it’s that universal. The only element we’d probably struggle with is the nutritional side. I’d have to rethink that as you can’t really serve turmeric lattes to Italians.”