Skin Care

By Courtney Dunlop

Do you ever dream of creating fabulous new products? Do you imagine what it would be like to have your own beauty line/store/company? Well, why not take some advice from someone who has already done it?

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Margot Wells is the creator and owner of Archive, a company known for its luxurious bath products and candles, all with beautiful packaging. Beneath the Archive umbrella are the lines Bloom Simply Good, Bloom2, and Just Add Water. If that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, a new collection, Lollia, will launch in January. Whew! So, how does she do it?

Wells always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In third grade she was selling rings on the playground at a 50% markup, and through high school she designed and sold everything from greeting cards to jewelry. But it wasn’t until she found herself out of college and totally broke that she truly put her talents to work. Seeing an opportunity in the new body and bath trend emerging in the early 90s, she and her partner (now fiancée!), Paul, opened up the first Bloom store in Lawrence, Kansas. Wells remembers how different the beauty world was back then. “I remember having to explain to people what shower gel was”, she says. “It was the right time to reach people”.

And the people are what kept it all going. Wells has always been design-driven, but she says, “Design is just a tool. What I really love is the reaction from people. Success to me is customer response”.

One of the reasons Archive has become such a success is because Wells makes sure that she never loses sight of the bottom line: the customers. Starting out in a retail setting kept her on her toes. Since she and Paul were running the store, they had to have all of the answers. She made sure she was involved in every step as to become an expert on her products. Since the beginning, Archive has been personally driven, and Wells makes sure that her collections are always approachable. Even now, with national distribution in over 2,500 specialty stores, the company maintains an intimate feel. The customers have to relate, says Wells. Always.

Wells is often asked why she creates many lines that are so different from one another. She explains that she sees customers from a retail standpoint. “People like different looks, stories, and moods. Archive has strength in one-stop-shopping”, says Wells. A few standouts? Try a French Country Candle in French Linen, an Archive Essentials Foaming Body Wash in Soothing Watercress and Cucumber, Bloom2 Moisturizing Milk in No. 3 Simplicity, and finally (my all-time favorite), the very large Quiet Morning Shea Butter Luxury Soap by Just Add Water.

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This January will see the launch of Lollia, a lifestyle brand that will be a new direction for Wells. The products are feminine, flirty, and a bit cheeky. Wells wanted to do a line that was more design driven than previous collections, and wanted to create products that are more on the higher end (but still approachable) than the Archive collections. Wells drew upon her love for vintage textiles to design the gorgeous packaging. She used a different approach for the fragrances, too. Lollia will be more perfumed and romantic, with more of a fine fragrance approach than the Archive brands.

Lollia will have a new story every season. This January, look out for luxuries for the boudoir in soft floral patterns, all hinting back to a more romantic time. The bubble bath comes in a wine bottle, complete with cork. The Breathe fragrance is a delicate blend of peony and white lily, and the candles are embellished with a crystal chandelier drop. Lovely.

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For anyone who wants to start his or her own company, Wells gives a good heads up. “Be willing to live it 24 hours a day”, she says.” You have to be willing to make it your life”. As for the beauty market today, it is much different than when Wells was starting out. Customers don’t need to be told how to use a loofah anymore. As for staying ahead in today’s world, Wells says, “With success comes a sense of responsibility to stay fresh. Don’t get bogged down with strategy. Stay gutsy and follow your instincts”. Hey, it worked for her!

For Archive products call 1.800.208.1922 or visit www.ArchiveBath.com. For Lollia products call 1.888.8 Lollia.

Originally published November 2003
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