Finding the beauty within
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Look at fashion magazines. Read the on-line articles that promise that a woman can look like Gisele Bundchen in just ten easy steps. It's a mass-marketed, air-brushed hype machine that attempts to define 'Beautiful' in as few words as possible and with as many images as possible that all look like versions of the same person, and it's destroying the confidence of millions of American women who have forgotten how to feel their inner beauty.
In the face of these images, there is a group of enterprising women who, through the work being done in their first store in Delaware, have already proven that the myth to be a fallacy, and they're about to open the doors to a new enterprise in Kennett Square that hopes to bury the myth fully into the ground.
Since Cristi Miller opened Houppette, a cosmetics and skincare boutique, in Greenville in the fall of 2001, thousands of women have been held by the hand and introduced to products that marry perfectly with with their natural beauty, and in the process, have felt better about themselves. On Aug. 18, Miller will open the second Houppette at the corner of Broad Street and State Street in Kennett Square, in what will be a full-service, working classroom of leading cosmetic and make-up products.
"I've been a part of the Kennett community and absolutely love it here, and see all of the excitement going on, and I wanted to be a part of it," said Miller, who lives in Kennett Square. "It's a vibrant community and we're excited to be a part of it. We had been looking for another space in the Kennett Square area for the past five years, and now it enables us to collaborate with several other businesses, who will become our neighbors."
Houppette will specialize in some of the fashion industry's leading makeup, skincare, fragrance and bath and body products, which will include brands like Kevin Aucoin, Natura Bisse, Skinceuticals and Diptyque, as well as a line of accessories, lingerie, lounge wear, jewelry and gift items. Skincare and makeup consultants will be on hand to help women enhance – or create – their own personal style, as well as provide makeup applications for wedding parties and special occasions.
The Kennett Square store will collaborate regularly with stores like No. 109, Ashley Austin Boutique and Chantilly Blue, and plans to participate in a Girls' Night Out on Sept. 24.
Before she opened the first Houppette, Miller established her career in the cosmetics and retail industry by working at Bloomingdale's in New York City and at L Boutique in Greenville, where she slowly began to understand that she wasn't just selling products, but helping navigate women through the sometimes rough waters of finding their own beauty. On a trip through Europe, she saw small perfume and beauty shops in small towns and big cities, and began to envision a store of similar size and inventory.
Soon after the doors of the first Houppette location were opened, she hired Lizzie Johnson, then a high school student, who now is co-owner of Houppette and runs the Delaware location. Johnson shares Miller's philosophy, and when she first began the job, she put the philosophy to the test. Johnson worked with a cancer patient, whose skin was dry and whose hair was nearly gone from chemotherapy. Johnson took the woman on a makeover that became more than just introducing her to a few products.
"The transformation was so much more than her appearance," she said. "I realized that what we do is so much more important than just painting faces. Our clients come in and they tell us that they're looking for lipstick, but they're really looking for something more than just lipstick, something that makes them feel amazing."
At Houppette, the products are merely a conduit to a larger mission.
"[Renowned make-up artist] Laura Mercier said some of the things that make you different from other women are also what makes you more beautiful," said Heather Schaen, who will serve as the manager of the new Kennett Square store. "We share that message with our clients, and let them embrace their own beauty."
For more information about Houppette, visit http://houppette.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.