Bonita by Rosemary Garcia

Latin Beauty
Posted December 15, 2003

In the vast and colorful world of cosmetics, Rosemary Garcia saw a void: a cosmetic line for Latina women and women of color.

Garcia had all the appropriate experience. She had worked at Nordstrom for six years as an executive manager, and for four years as a representative for a cosmetics company, where she sold to Macy's, among other department stores. She felt confident she could enter the cosmetic arena and fill that void with her own beauty line.

Naming the line "Bonita," which means "pretty" in Spanish, Garcia started her company on the Internet in 2000. During her first year, she conducted marketing research via the web, tracking orders and having customers sign up for monthly newsletters. "I signed up more than 50,000 people in three months," she says. "I know exactly who my customers are, where they are living and where they are shopping."

Garcia says the main appeal to her beauty line is that she offers foundation for all shades of skin. "Sixty percent of my business is foundation sales," she says. "That's unheard-of in the cosmetics business. And those sales are telling you that it was definitely a missing element in the world of beauty."

Within a year, Garcia set her sights on selling her line at department stores. Armed with her marketing and customer profile data, she approached Macy's department stores. "They totally loved the idea," she adds.

Understanding that building brand awareness was key to her business' success, Garcia launched Bonita in five Macy's stores in 2001 at nondescript cosmetic counters with generic casing. Only Garcia's colorful graphics and logo and her products' pink/purple holographic tube packaging were able to express the brand's image.

In 2002, Garcia got the chance to open a vendor shop in the mother of all cosmetics departments - the first floor at Macy's Herald Square. After a successful few months, she was able to move from a small oval counter to a nearly 150-square-foot corner space with a window looking onto 34th Street.

With such a prime location, Garcia knew it was time to take her brand to the next level. She approached Display Works Inc. (Markham, Ont.) and Design + 2 (New York) to create a vendor shop for her one-of-a-kind brand.

To appeal to her Latin audience, Garcia told designers the shop had to be upbeat and cool with a Latin twist. "Latin women love brightness and color," she says. "Plus they see my name attached to the line and know it's by a Latin woman, which makes a difference because Latin women are very brand-oriented."

Garcia chose bright purple to attract shoppers' eyes, and pink and white accents to give it a feminine and boutiquey feel. "Normally, everything in the cosmetics de-partment is brown or black," she says. "I wanted something totally different that was inviting to my customers."

To further set the brand apart, Garcia decided the area should be open sell, so customers can choose to be waited on by staff or experiment with the products themselves.

"So we lost all the showcases, put in two testing areas and set up the backwall like a testing counter," explains Thomas Pedecine of Design + 2.

Bonita's presence has grown to 20 Macy's stores since Garcia introduced it 21/2 years ago. "It's been such a tremendous response from women who say, 'This is exactly what I've been looking for. Finally, something for us Latina women. About time!' " says Garcia.

Client: Bonita by Rosemary Garcia, Macy's Herald Square, New York - Rosemary Garcia, president, ceo and founder

Design: Design + 2, New York - Thomas Pedecine, principal

Outside Design Consultant: Display Works Inc., Markham, Ont. - Garth Brodie, ceo (fixturing)

Supplier: Display Works Inc., Markham, Ont. (fixturing, custom furniture, signage)