Originally published in The Daily Sound, Aug. 10, 2010.
When The Grapeseed Company needed more space for its business, founder Kristin Fraser Cotte was surprised to find that the price difference between warehouse space and retail space wasn’t too far off. That revelation helped lead to the next iteration of this Santa Barbara-based skincare and beauty products business.
Cotte founded the company more than five years ago, and dedicated it to creating high-quality products with a certain special attention to the grape seed, an antioxidant-rich byproduct garnered from area winemakers. The Grapeseed Company’s products have heretofore only been available via online orders (thegrapeseedcompany.com) and at select local businesses.
“Customers coming to Santa Barbara were asking me where to go for our products,” said Cotte. “Making it all on site, using local products, it made sense to have a retail store in Santa Barbara as well.”
Now with a physical location, perhaps The Grapeseed Company further encapsulates the easygoing, idealized Santa Barbara mindset, as she’s within walking distance from her home. More importantly, customers have a place where they can experience the entire product line, which features organic and locally grown ingredients. It’s a venue where customers can interface with knowledgeable staff, and even create their own custom versions of Grapeseed Company products. The new space will be a place where customers can do more than “just pick up” products, says Cotte, but can “get their hands on them and learn.” To that point, the storefront, at 201 West Carrillo Street, and its approximately 800 square feet represent an opportunity that’s particularly exciting to Cotte: a chance to host in-person classes.
Cotte, a former teacher, says it’s a way to incorporate her experience and enthusiasm for sharing knowledge with her passion for the bath and beauty business. Until the retail space became a reality, she thought of hosting classes as “a dream.”
“There’s room for groups of up to 12,” she told The Daily Sound, as she demonstrated how the shelving displays will rearrange to accommodate a crowd (the retail operation can readily continue congruent with classes, however). Cotte indicated that due to the amount of ingredients necessary to create Grapeseed Company’s brand of alchemy, it wasn’t feasible to host a teaching event on the road. At her new home base, however, group events will be a reality in a matter of mere weeks.
Cotte foresees girls’ birthday parties and bachelorette parties as probable candidates for such events. The presence of an on-site parking lot was a critical factor in choosing a space, as potential students need to park for longer than the 15-30 minutes that a retail-only operation could get away with. Customers need a good chunk of time to take advantage of the teaching events. Also advantageous: the new location of Mel’s, the bar formerly located in Paseo Nuevo, is set to open right next door, perhaps synergistically supporting The Grapeseed Company as a bachelorette party venue (if the idea of creating massage candles that melt into hot lotion weren’t enough).
The store is due to open its doors “in mid-August,” and Cotte plans to hire two sales people who will assist both with floor sales and increasing the company’s wholesale distribution footprint.