CAP Beauty is a natural beauty store founded in February 2015 by Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima. They have been friends for over 20 years, and their prior career experiences & knowledge of the market led them to create CAP Beauty. This is a store filled with health and wellness merchandise including beauty products, a special facial treatment, food/ingestibles and more. Learn about their story below!
Walk me through your career paths.
Kerrilynn: Cindy and I worked together at Martha Stewart. After I left Martha Stewart, I opened up my own clothing and accessories boutique called Castor & Pollux. The store started in Brooklyn, and moved to West Village, where CAP Beauty is now located. I also worked with some hotel ateliers, restaurant people and did some interiors. My background was mostly retail, fashion and now beauty.
Cindy: I was a style editor at Martha Stewart. When I left, it was to be a freelance stylist mostly for magazines and advertising. I did a lot of decorating, table top, and most recently, fashion. Kerrilynn understands retail, while I focus a little more on the branding, photography, content and marketing. We both do everything. People think of partnerships as having a numbers person and a creative person. She has a solid sense of style and knows what she likes/doesn’t like and we both have a strong visual POV (point of view).
In most cases, we have overlaps and a real respect for each others vision, and it’s been really fun to create CAP as a blend of the two of our styles. Kerrilynn is a little more on the numbers and accounting side, and has a great sense of cash flow. My strength is a little more with contracts and those types of issues.
How do you find brands?
Our standards for natural are pretty strict, probably the most strict standards of any natural beauty store. A product with only natural ingredients is the #1 filter. If there are any synthetic ingredients in any of the products we receive, it’s an automatic no. Products are either sent to us, we read about them, we discover while traveling, or are referred to by our vendors.
Kerrilynn has always been great at having a foresight and understanding of trends that are in their most seminal phase and predicting things before they happen. She becomes interested in something before the curve. This has guided our interest in ingestibles. We started small with this category, and they were all such successes, that we expanded the collection. We are building new shelves in the store and thinking about spinning off to open a grocery. So much of it is driven by what our customers want and what we are interested in.
What is the Masterminds group?
A Masterminds group is getting together with people you admire to fuel you to get you to your next place, which can happen through the help of others. Successful people are surrounded by successful people. In order to realize your best potential, you need to take a look at who you’re surrounding yourself with. Use the group as a resource that can help you at any point with issues whether they are small or large, it doesn’t matter. It’s about having a support system that you choose.
When you have a group like that around you, you don’t have to solve every problem by starting from scratch. Chances are, it’s a problem that other people have experienced and they have a quick and easy solution for. It’s about having more resources, ideas, another person outside your business to set you straight when your getting to micro about something or setting your expectations about something in the wrong place, or too low/too high.
How did your Masterminds group instigate CAP Beauty?
Kerrilynn started selling natural lines at Castor & Pollux and had a lot of epiphanies around that, not only her own skincare, but also the joy she felt in selling those things as opposed to selling clothing. She noticed that women who would buy beauty left happy without judging or critiquing themselves versus women who tried on clothing often struggled with issues including, body image, finances, lifestyle, etc. She saw immediately how joyful it was to give someone a product that was going to enhance their well-being.
It’s true of naturals because they are healthier and give you great skin, and because they are filled with active nutritious ingredients. It was all win and a totally different engagement with the customer. Kerrilynn noticed it herself, as she became conscious of using cleaner products, she realized there wasn’t a store to go to. Prior to this, she would go to Aedes in the West Village if she was having a good or bad day to treat herself. It was the right price point since an expensive perfume is still less expensive than a nice dress. When she switched to naturals, she was looking for that spot. Where is a similar place to Aedes that is natural?
Since she is a retailer, she had the revelation that it would make a great retail concept. She brought the idea to Mastermind, but was not in a place to do it by herself at the time especially if she was going to keep Castor & Pollux open. She thought it was a great idea, but was overwhelmed by it. I kept harassing her and eventually CAP Beauty was born!
How did you choose the name?
Kerrilynn: The name is a play off of Castor & Pollux; using the initials. We never sat down and brainstormed a name, it was always CAP. After, we realized it stood for clean and pure. Cindy’s husband is French, and he pointed out that CAP means destination in French, so it also means destination beauty. We wanted a solid sounding name. We didn’t want a name with a million vowels. We wanted it to be an affirmative, decisive, strong and clear name. It’s great for puns.
What skills are necessary to start & grow a business? How did you develop these?
Hard work, vision and resilience. It’s not for the thin-skinned. You have to be willing to have challenging conversations, take risks and sacrifice aspects of your personal life. There were so many times in the past when we felt we wanted to change our businesses or start new ones and create something different. Cindy: Styling can be physically challenging and exhausting in a lot of ways. A lot of stylists I know are interested in opening a separate business. Frankly, I never felt that comfortable doing it because I never felt that I was bringing something to the world that was really significant.
I didn’t want to be in the position of manufacturing more stuff that didn’t need to be here. One of the reasons I was so enthusiastic about Kerrilynn’s idea is that it hit all the right marks. A business that we could create a brand around, have a lot of fun conceiving, designing, and marketing, but also has a mission was so important to both of us. It’s easy to sell because you know you’re giving someone something that’s enhancing their life.
Describe the launch of CAP Beauty.
We launched the website first, but the concept was always to have a retail store. We had a deadline because there was some press coming out, so we wanted to make sure people had a place to go. We were under construction when the website came out. We hired a team to design our website. The website is an exciting challenge for us because it’s neither of our biggest strengths, but we are doing really well considering that fact and know we have a lot of improvements to make. We went for style over functionality.
Tell me about serving the Cap Beauty elixir in vintage Dior cups, how did this come about?
Cindy: It’s made with Sun Potion and our coconut butter, He Shou Wu (an herb known to promote skin, hair and nail health) & Tocos. We serve it after facial treatments. We are big believers in beauty from the inside out. The Dior cups: during my years of prop styling, there was a cake plate at one of the prop houses in that same China pattern. I’ve always been a little obsessed with it, and I hunted them down. Kerrilynn: Cindy is great at finding things. She can find anything.
How did you decide to make your own CAP Beauty private label products?
We started working on products that we really believed in and reaching out to our crew and sourcing them. We are working on a full private label 5 piece skincare line which launches this year. Right now it’s mostly food products for beauty from the inside out.
How long does the concept-to-shelf process take?
It depends on the vendor we are using. It’s about the packaging and it’s design. We don’t give ourselves hard deadlines in terms of when they will be coming into the store. We have a strong idea of when they should launch, but there are a lot of variables. Sometimes it’s 2 months or 6. The private label is taking much longer due to R&D with a timeline closer to 12 months. We use different vendors depending on their skill set.
How do you decide which product you want to develop?
It comes from the gut. We develop products that our team would be excited about.
How did you source the bottles, choose the scents & packaging?
Kerrilynn: We do all of our packaging in-house. Cindy works closely with our in-house designer and they come up with the vision for what that package will look like. We can’t do custom with physical bottles, so we are working off of stock currently, and at some point that will shift. We only have one product right now that has scent. It was developed for us with our art direction.
Was the treatment room a must when designing your store?
Yes, this was a big part of the concept to show people a part of the environment that makes sense with the CAP vision of how powerful the products are through treatment. We have one facial treatment which is a massaged based facial. We don’t use machines and only use the experience and hands of the aestheticians.
What sorts of events take place at CAP Beauty? How can one find out about them?
We have an events section on our blog. We have everything from spirit animal workshops to gut health to meditation workshops, etc.
What does a week look like for you?
Lots of appointments, meetings, phone calls, self care, writing, yoga, meditation, herbs and making sure we spend time with our family.
Are your offices in the store?
We are down the street.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to start their own company?
Make sure it’s something you really want to do and live & breath 24 hours a day and that you fully believe in it. Make sure you can distill your mission down to a clean and easy to understand sentence.