Laura Lemon was hooked on beauty from the moment her Grandma Laine handed over her Clinique beauty samples. Her early exposure to beauty and her personal struggles with acne-prone skin lead her to harness her skills as a makeup artist. Laura eventually catapulted her beauty career when she became an associate buyer for Walmart and moved to California to learn everything she could about the industry. As she grew inquisitive about product formulas and the effects on our skin, she launched natural beauty in 2,000 Walmart stores and helped shift perspectives in households around the country. Of all of Laura’s accomplishments, opening her own business is by far her greatest one.
In 2016, Laura opened the doors to Lemon Laine, her all-natural beauty and wellness boutique, in Nashville. She felt like a welcoming, warm environment with one-on-one customer service was missing in the beauty industry. Rather than wait for change, she made it herself. Lucky for Houston, a Lemon Laine store will be joining the trendy outpost of Heights Mercantile on Nov. 3. I had the chance to speak to Laura about her career path, favorite products, and what to expect at the Houston location.
What gave you the motivation to start Lemon Laine?
So much of [how I got started was because I] was struggling with my own skin conditions. I had terrible cystic acne when I was young, and makeup was the only thing that made me feel better. I just fell in love with how beauty can really transform and give women confidence.
I was always craving authenticity and I think everyone is in some ways nowadays, whether it’s the food they’re eating or the places they’re shopping or the people they’re surrounding themselves with. I had been working in the beauty industry and I was a makeup artist with Laura Mercier, and I started asking more questions. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to be a national beauty buyer at Walmart of all places that I had my “aha moment”. I was hearing this information about what was in our products and how much that affects our, our bodies and our skin health, too.
What were you thinking during your big “aha”?
When the light bulb went off, I couldn’t ignore what I had been learning. I just felt like, “Wow, here I am someone who was such a product junky, who loved everything about beauty, but I didn’t know this information. Now that I do, how can I empower other women or, or share this information.” I knew the biggest impact I could have with moving out to California where I could learn even more.
Okay, so tell me about the amazing Oil Bar!
Our oil bar is where our heart and soul is. It’s a time when we get to know the customer on a deeper level. They share with us everything from their current skin routine to their lifestyle choices — everything that kind of goes into how you look and feel. Our expert team can provide a beautiful blend that we create on the spot that you can use as your face oil, but also really give you a full consultation on other products or tips to get you going on your natural beauty routine.
Every customer we see has completely different skin from one to the next, and that skin changes with the season, the time of month, and as you age. For us, it didn’t feel right not to offer something that was more catered to each individual customer.
What are the products you can’t live without?
Pai Rosehip Oil and Osea Atmosphere Protection Cream
Here’s the part of the interview where my self-proclaimed natural beauty lover lets Laura know I had no idea what either of those products was. She reassured me, of course!
Seventy to 80 percent of what we’re bringing to Houston is not currently there [in Houston] or sold anywhere. A lot of them are smaller makers; either they don’t have as big as distribution and some of purposefully want to keep it really small to partner with the brands to tell their story.
How do you handpick the products in Lemon Laine?
It’s a little bit of art and science I would say. I mean, I definitely look at the ingredient list first and foremost…I [also] partner with a chemist that specializes in natural beauty formulations. After that, it’s really about hearing the brand’s story. What their mission is, what they care about, and are they in it for the right reasons. And the packaging, also. I want it to feel beautiful. I want it to know when it’s in your bathroom medicine cabinet that you’re excited to use it.
The store design is GORGEOUS. Can you tell me more about the concept of making Lemon Laine look like a home?
When you buy a product and you bring it into your home, that’s where it lives and that’s where you use it. So to discover it in a place that’s similar to that, felt really inspiring and something that I wanted to mimic in the store. The beauty wall looks and feels like a medicine cabinet. There’s fun wallpaper with a cabinet full of products and it’s something people really gravitate towards. I also really wanted to highlight color. In the South, women aren’t afraid of color and embrace it.
So Lemon Laine doesn’t just sell beauty products. Let’s talk about wellness.
I think most women know how to use lipstick or a face cream, but they may not know the best way to use the digestive enzyme or collagen. I want it to feel like you’re at your kitchen because these are products that you could easily combine into your routine every day. We have a fridge, a butcher-block countertop with tile in the back…we even are taking that up a notch with our Houston store.
You’ve accomplished so much. What advice do you have for other woman trying to make a big impact and follow their dreams?
Looking back, there were times in my career when I felt lost. I felt like, “how is this contributing to what I want to be doing when I grow up?” and “What do I want to do when I grow up?” I wish I would’ve had the perspective of being more present and [realized] that everything is teaching moment and everything you absorb and learn from in that moment will get you to the next.
Ready to visit Lemon Laine at Heights Mercantile?!
Lemon Laine will open its doors for the first time on Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. The first 50 guests will receive a special Lemon Laine goodie bag! Regular hours will be 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Mon. – Sat. and 12-5 p.m. on Sunday. What are you most excited to find?