In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Nethercutt Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right?within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends and sallow mannequins more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services?from foundation checks to express facials?allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
After traveling to cities outside of Charlotte, earth enthusiasts Fiona and Marley began envying the other towns' stockpiles of eco-friendly stores. Back home, they could always buy green products on the web, but since they had no opportunity to sample or even look at them before delivery, they were frequently disappointed with their purchases. They decided to take matters into their own hands in January 2011 by establishing ecolicious—a one-stop market for vegan and eco-friendly wares.
Each item at ecolicious bears a product tab with a review by staff members, who personally test the goods they shelve. Jewelry crafted by local artisans hangs near vintage clothing, raw snacks, and cleaning supplies made from humanely harvested soap bubbles. Within the store's bright blue walls, Community Supported Agriculture members can also pick up their seasonal shipments of local produce.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.”
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand’s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand?despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase?is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.
The master colorists at Limelights Hair Color Studio aren't afraid to reach beyond the rainbow with their styling services. Highlights and all-over color treatments play up flattering shades, which range from classic browns, blonds, and blacks to iridescent pinks and purples. The staff also manipulates hair texture with keratin-straightening formulas, defeating frizz more quickly than peer pressuring each strand to "loosen up already." The lime-accented benches around the salon bespeak the bright attitudes and edgy 'dos found within.
Dr. Crystal Finnegan and the dedicated staff at Adams Farm Dental Care keep chompers healthy and snowy white in a friendly, patient-oriented office. The staff rides the cutting edge of dental practices, undergoing continuing training each year and participating in exchange programs with tooth fairies. Dental services include basic preventive hygiene, whitening, and veneer application, with Dr. Finnegan and her hygienists taking the time to break down confusing topics for curious patients. The staff uses a range of topical anesthetics and delicate techniques to keep patients' mouths as pain-free as possible; guests are encouraged to speak up if anything hurts or if they just realized how to make the perfect peanut brittle.