Pop-up beauty business taking off

Founder Michelle Young initially started POP UP Cosmetics in 2015 as a way to offload stock from her wholesale business The Cosmetics Department, but after holding two annual four-day clearance sales, she realised there was an opportunity to make the event a business in its own right.

“It wasn’t until 2017 that we decided to launch a separate retail business, selling brand name cosmetics at discounted prices, and called it POP UP Cosmetics,” she said.

The idea came at the right time, with the beauty sector now booming, but Young credits her cost-effective leasing strategy with really driving her business’s success.

POP UP Cosmetics fills empty storefronts for a short period of time to hold beauty sales, which it advertises directly to shoppers. There are typically five temporary locations across Sydney at the same time.

Young said she got the idea several years ago from the emerging food cart trend.

“I love to watch and observe trends, so in 2014 when I noticed pop-up fashion and food carts, I knew with our wholesale connections that we were in a position to launch in the beauty retail space,” she said.

“We hold 12 years of retail selling data and trends, so B2C is really an extension of what was already working for us. We are very clear on what our consumers want and the prices that they are prepared to pay relative to online competitive pricing.”

The beauty industry is currently thriving, thanks in large part to the ongoing impact of social media and ‘selfie’ culture.

“At a time where there is an emphasis on individual expression, cosmetics and beauty is a tool that everyone can use to express who they are,” Young said.

“With major players like Sephora and Mecca pushing traditional boundaries, Australian consumers are now finally getting what has always been available overseas. The selfie and social media only further drives this category.

According to Young, the POP Up Cosmetics concept is unique in that it is nimble and adaptive, which cannot always be achieved by some of its major competitors.

“While I respect, admire and look up to the major players in the beauty market who obviously have their clear advantages over us, we also have some unique and distinct advantages over them,” Young said.

“We are not stagnant in our footprint, nor are we tied by traditional retail costs and overheads. We have an increasing following and know exactly how every customer heard about us and arrived at our sale.”

The business is also quick to set up and pack down, meaning it can easily and quickly take residence in an empty shopfront to fill the gap – driving traffic into the shopping centre through its own advertising and databases, helping the centre go on to secure a longer-term tenant.

“Often an empty shop is permanently leased out while we are still running the sale,” Young said.

“For a leasing manager, being able to show a prospective tenant a buzzing retail store, rather than an empty shop, is the only sales pitch they will ever need. So it’s a win-win situation.”

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