The Blow partners with Sephora to offer new ‘express’ concept, because retail can no longer “just stand on its own”

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Phoebe Simmonds at The Blow On-The-Go in Sephora. Source: supplied

After two years of delays, The Blow founder Phoebe Simmonds launched her new concept, The Blow On-The-Go, at Sephora Chadstone last Thursday, April 28.

As the founder of two successful businesses, Simmonds knows all about what it means to be a busy woman.

The premium blow-dry boutique was founded in 2018, while in 2019, Simmonds co-founded The Memo, an online marketplace.

During COVID-19, The Memo saw 330% in revenue in just 12 months, but, for The Blow — a business relying on its in-person offering — its CBD location saw it closed under government lockdowns for several months.

In July 2021, Simmonds wrote that The Blow team — like many other small businesses — was “waiting for borders to reopen, offices to go back to capacity, events to be rescheduled, lifestyles to get back to rhythm”.

And now it is.

As life starts getting busier and busier, Simmonds has recognised that customers don’t just want the same old pre-pandemic offerings, they want something “else”. Something quick and convenient, but also something “more”.

That’s where The Blow On-The-Go at Australia’s largest shopping centre comes in.

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The Blow On-The-Go services. Source: supplied

The concept is an extension of the services already offered at The Blow’s flagship studio in Little Collins, Simmonds explains, except this time the hairdressing chairs are located inside Sephora at Chadstone shopping centre in Melbourne.

This means customers can come in, get their hair done with The Blow, their makeup done at Sephora, and get anything else they need from the shops too.

“You can get in, get out, and get on with your day.”

Retail needs “more”

Following the launch at Chadstone last week, Simmonds says it was “just extraordinary to see the volume of people out on the weekend”.

“It was like being at a football game”, she says, if the footy field was the various levels of Australia’s largest shopping precinct.

The amount of foot traffic shows that people are excited to get out and about again, and are “wanting to go all out” when it comes to events.

“Australian women are ready to go back and experience brands in person,” Simmonds said.

“We now know that retail can’t just stand on its own, selling products. We know that retail needs to really move into creating experiences and touch points that will leave people feeling more and more connected to the brand.”

For Simmonds, that’s what the new concept is allowing The Blow brand to do — be accessible, convenient and immersive all-in-one, while only taking 20-30 minutes out of a customers day.

Simmonds says the next goal is to be fully booked out with both chairs in the Chadstone location every weekend, before expanding into other Sephoras across the country, and possibly even into New Zealand.

It’s who you know

The talks of the partnership between Sephora and The Blow actually started back in October of 2019, Simmonds reflects.

“We wanted to do a launch in Melbourne and Sydney in March 2020,” she said. “But obviously that didn’t go to plan.”

Instead while Melbourne was in lockdown, the team focused on launching the concept in Sydney’s Pitt Street, which happened in July, and stayed operational until New South Wales’ own lockdown hit.

After the lockdown lifted, Simmonds says the team decided to press pause on the Sydney location and focus its energy solely on the launch at Chadstone — especially with the trend of people moving into suburbia and away from the CBDs.

As for how the partnership with Sephora came about in the first place, Simmonds says it was all through her relationships.

“I used to be the marketing director for Benefit Cosmetics,” Simmonds said, explaining how that role saw her working with Sephora in many countries over several years.

When Simmonds saw how Benefit Cosmetics was doing its Brow Bars within Sephora, she realised the opportunity existed for an express blow dry too.

“I guess it was just talking about it [with Sephora], waiting for the right time, and then, post-pandemic, going for it.”

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