Social Media Handles:
238 W 10th Street, NYC
Short Business Description:
Natural beauty store and spa located in the West Village, NYC.
CAP Beauty, founded by Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima, is the premier destination for all-natural beauty products. After spending the afternoon in their magical West Village shop, sipping on beauty tonics and experiencing the community-centric vibe, it was clear to see why they have such a vast and loyal fan-base. Their products are beautiful, curated, and completely in line with the public’s increased interest in health and wellness. As leading examples of what their company stands for, these ladies radiated kindness, ambition, and zen.
Kerrilynn and Cindy got honest with us about what, and who, it took to build CAP as we know it. As veteran business owners and wellness advocates, when they opened CAP, they really hit the nail on the head. With ambitious expansion plans, fingers crossed, this natural beauty haven will be coming to a location near you very soon.
What is CAP Beauty?
CAP Beauty is an all natural beauty store with treatment rooms in Manhattan’s West Village. We live by the philosophy that Beauty is Wellness and Wellness is Beauty, and so we address beauty from the inside out and outside in. We stock over 100 brands of truly natural products including and extensive selection of superfoods and ingestibles. In our spa we offer incredible massage-based facials to lift, tone and purify the skin. And through in store events and our blog, The Thinking CAP, we share the tips and tricks for our customers to create the highest vibrational version of ourselves.
Before starting CAP Beauty, what did you do?
Kerrilynn owned the much-loved West Village store, Castor & Pollux. I was a set designer and stylist and worked on shoots for ad campaigns, cookbooks and magazines.
How did you two meet?
We met working at Martha Stewart Living. We realized we had so much in common from an interest in style, entertaining and fashion to a true curiosity about betterment, wellness and the spirit. We both went on to start our other businesses. We were great friends but also really respected each other’s ideas about business. We formed a mastermind group (with another friend, the designer Kimille Taylor) and met religiously to bounce ideas off of each other, share resources and support each other’s businesses.
What inspired you to start CAP Beauty?
Kerrilynn started stocking a small selection of naturals at her store and saw the interest grow around these products. Around the same time she was diagnosed with Celiac. She woke up to the connection between inner health and outer beauty. She realized there was no store that stocked all of the new natural products she was discovering online, no single destination that stocked all natural and only natural products and products that addressed all aspects of wellness. The idea for CAP Beauty was born!
Did you have any formal business training before launching?
No. Just each of us running our own businesses for over ten years.
What was your biggest fear before launching CAP Beauty?
Cash flow is a scary thing! Neither of us had ever been responsible for so much capital but we also knew we had to spend it in order to grow, in order to create the CAP Beauty we wanted to build.
Your Glass Ceiling Turning Point
What specific problem were you trying to solve, or gap in the market were you trying to fill?
We wanted to create a beautiful, inspirational spot for people to buy natural products. It really didn’t exist before.
Who is the woman you are looking to serve?
Everyone. We really believe these are the healthiest and most effective products in the world and love sharing their power with as many people as possible. That said, we also knew a LOT of women who seemed interested in using more natural products but didn’t have a trustable source that was as stylish as it was pure in its mission. The products must be clean, but they also must work and the experience has to be inspiring and fulfilling. Our core customer is savvy, smart and engaged.
How did you get the courage to just start?
Honestly it helped to have each other. Cindy also told her Dad the idea who was incredibly supportive and really loved the concept. It’s helpful when friends and family are encouraging.
When did you know it was a full-time gig?
We simply took the leap. Kerrilynn committed to it first when she decided not to buy inventory for Castor & Pollux for Spring of 2014. That January, she had a closing sale and sold through her inventory. I cut way back on styling jobs and we started working out of the old store.
Is there anyone in particular who influenced your journey?
The whole community is so supportive and inviting. We’ve never been afraid to reach out and ask for help or guidance and we are really lucky to work in a community of such generous souls.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did you meet that person?
Again, we seek advice anywhere and everywhere that makes sense. Between both of our former businesses and our 20 years each of living in New York, we know a lot of people with a lot of great advice to give!
The Business of Your Business
How did you finance your business?
We started with a loan from Cindy’s Dad. And then went into a friends and family round and raised capital in exchange for equity.
What were the first 5 steps you took to launch?
- Neither of us knew much about raising capital and so we met with friends and friends of friends who had been through the process as both investors and businesses.
- We spent a lot of time working on a business plan which we never actually needed but the process of writing it all out was extremely helpful in articulating our mission and figuring out what exactly we wanted to be.
- We consulted a firm in Boulder and hired them to help us create a proforma with our first 3 years of projections and expenses. They’ve been an invaluable partner and we still work with them weekly.
- We reached out to everyone we knew and everyone we wanted to know to introduce our brand and talk potential partnerships.
- We wrote a manifesto. It is still our North Star and the most important text we’ve written.
Would you do those same 5 things first, knowing what you know now?
Yes, probably. Things seem to be working out pretty well!
How do you find and vet product lines?
We find them everywhere. At this point a lot of brands approach us but we are always looking, learning, reading and discovering. We are more likely to discover a brand by reading an article on gut health than by reading a beauty blog.
We start by reading the ingredient deck and making sure there are NO synthetics. We also make sure we don’t already have a similar product in the store. We have a lot of SKUs and it would get confusing if we had too many of the same kind of product. Then we test everything. Or someone on our staff tests it. We have a wide range of skin types which comes in handy! We also consult our estheticians. And yes, packaging is important but not everything.
How do you go about getting customers?
We do a lot of press and outreach and have a lot of people come to us who have found us on instagram. We love instagram.
What outside contractors have you hired to help build your business?
We work with a firm in Boulder to help us create financial projections and strategize growth and investments. They are invaluable to us. Besides that, not many. We worked with a PR agency for a few months but then took it back in house. We hired a firm to initially build our website as well but do all of our branding, design and web management in house.
What kind of growing pains have you experienced?
When we started out we knew it was important for the two of us not to spend every hour on the sales floor. We knew that we could never grow or expand if we were caught up in the immediacy of retail all the time. So we built a pretty large infrastructure and really protected ourselves from those trappings. We probably went too far and detached ourselves too much from the store. After all, it is the heart and soul of our brand. Since then, we’ve made it a point to be more present and more connected to the store.
What obstacles have you faced that you were most surprised by?
Lawyer bills! Its remarkable how quickly those hours add up!
Where do you want CAP beauty to be in 5 years?
Los Angeles, Tokyo, Dallas, London, Portland, Miami, Chicago, Sydney. Seriously.
Where do you find inspiration?
We are voracious readers and consumers of images and ideas from both pop cultural sources like T and The Gentlewoman and from the art world as well. We read fiction, self-help and everything in between and practice yoga as often as possible.
Do you have any business role models?
Martha Stewart, Clare Vivier, the guys from sweetgreen, Marie Forleo, Oprah and Mickey Drexler. Also, Elon Musk, or maybe we just want Teslas.
How has branding played a role in your business?
Our brand and identity are so important to our business in every way. We’ve taken care to avoid the cliches of what “natural beauty” is expected to be. As founders we are deeply involved in crafting the brand. We write most of the copy ourselves, style, edit and art direct all of our photography and edit the design of everything we produce. We are who we are because of the spirit we create through branding.
How do you find and develop relationships with your community of artisans and business collaborators?
We read, we look, we take note and we reach out to anyone who interests us. When we’re approached by another business we listen with open minds and trust our intuition. Then, we always check in to make sure we’re honoring our commitments and we expect the same from our partners. When something doesn’t go as planned we figure out how to spell out our expectations more clearly for the next time.
Are you part of any professional networks?
No. Just informally with our circle of friends and partners like Sky Ting, AWAY Travel, The Newstand, Jenni Kayne and The Chalkboard.
What challenges do you think you face specifically as female founders, and how do you overcome them?
Honestly, on a day to day basis we rarely (if ever) feel challenged or discriminated against because we are female. So many of our partners and collaborators are female, female-owned businesses or men who subscribe to a higher consciousness. (This is the beauty of a business based on high vibrational living!)
How has having a family impacted how you run your business?
Cindy: I would say that having a business has affected how I run my family more than the other way around. I try to be very focused and very present when I’m with my kids. The evening hours between work and bedtime are sacred. If I have more to get done, there’s plenty of time to work once the kids are asleep.
How do you draw boundaries, or not draw boundaries, between work and personal life?
CAP Beauty is a lifestyle brand and we both live and breathe its ideals. We met working at Martha Stewart. There may be no better example of a company built around the lifestyle of its founder. That said, we are also a company that’s all about self care and it’s vital to take a break, to spend quality time with friends and loved ones and to care for our bodies, minds and spirits.
What is the best thing about running your own business? The most difficult?
The best thing is everything. We get to shape CAP Beauty into EXACTLY what we want it to be, create a corporate culture that we want to exist in and surround ourselves with our heros. The most difficult is the realization that we are ultimately responsible for its health and stability. We’re hard on ourselves when we make mistakes, because we love it with every fiber of our being.
What are you most proud of?
We love the community we’ve built. Our customers and staff are the coolest, most engaged and beautiful people we know. It’s an absolute thrill to see them fill our space during our events or even just on a busy day.
At what point did you think, “I made it”?
Our opening day was magical. The store was packed with old friends and new and there was so much love and excitement. That certainly felt amazing and like we were truly onto something. That said, our plans are so ambitious. I’m not sure that either of us are willing to consider this “made it.” We will but we have so much more to do!
What advice would you give to people who are just starting out in business?
Make sure your mission is clear. Use it as your guiding light and let it inform every decision you face.
Photography by: John von Pamer