Skin care central
When Jamie Park found herself laid off from her job in the apparel industry in 2002, she knew she had two options. Move back to Los Angeles where the jobs were, or stay in Santa Barbara and go into business for herself.
Around that time Ms. Park met her husband, which sealed the deal, so she founded Treat.
Nestled in the Arlington Plaza on the corner of State and Victoria streets. Treat is a skincare boutique and spa that specializes in high end and uniquely curated products. It has two treatment rooms for services including facials, waxing and threading. Ms. Park is the sole owner and has independently run the business for 17 years.
Over that time, Treat has become known for its top quality natural products that Ms. Park said are more advanced than the selection at Whole Foods or Lazy Acres. However, she had no plan for this to be Treat’s niche when she started out.
“I would say a lot of it has evolved from clients suggesting, ‘Have you heard of this? Have you heard of that?,’ ” said Ms. Park.
Listening to clients’ suggestions is a great way to learn about new lines and products because there are just so many good ones out there, Ms. Park said. It not only keeps the merchandise fresh, it builds relationships between Ms. Park and the customers which have kept the business going for more than a decade.
“It’s definitely the relationship with customers. We know almost all of them by name. We do have a reward program, so every dollar they spend, that adds up and then they get $25 or $15 off. So that definitely helps, but it’s the relationships and the services we provide.”
Ms. Park had no retail or skincare experience when she opened Treat, other than being a major fan of skincare products.
“Treat was created out of my love for products. I was just a product junkie,” she said.
“Before I did this I was actually an apparel designer and I got to travel to New York City and other parts of Europe, and I would always admire a store like this that’s just a boutique for specially curated products from all over the world. I loved going in and finding products that I’d never heard of before, seen before.”
When a new product has piqued her interest, Ms. Park is eager to find out if it will work with the store. She likes to experiment, and when a product line really takes off she likes to stay with it. Every so often, a new line sells well and becomes a larger part of the store, like Ms. Park’s favorite soap line, Mistral from France.
“Instead of trying to mess around with other soaps, I’ve just expanded. Whenever they launch a new collection I’ll just bring it in and it’s been a really good fit. A lot of times you just don’t know until you bring it in if it’s going to stick or not.”
One of Ms. Park’s favorite skincare lines has been Arcona, which she has carried since Day 1. The line was started in the ’80’s by a woman named Arcona, who was a pioneer in the business of all-natural skincare with her cold-processing methods, said Ms. Park.
“She figured out a way to make the products without using any carcinogens. It became very popular with a lot of Hollywood actresses and kind of a cult following product. They don’t ever advertise,” Ms. Park said.
Although Treat offers a diverse and large selection of products and brands, they all have one thing in common.
“The thing that’s important about most of the product lines I carry is that they haven’t sold out to the big guys,” said Ms. Park
Sometimes when a small brand gets a lot of buzz, the big beauty product brands like L’Oreal or Estee Lauder will come knocking to to buy the line. When that happens, the formula often changes, said Ms. Park.
Often, department stores sell products owned by two or three big brands, despite appearing to have a diverse stock. At Treat they avoid this, and sell smaller brands whose quality Ms. Park and her customers trust.
“I think that’s why people seek out places like this,” said Ms. Park.
Treat first opened on De la Guerra Street, before moving into Arlington Plaza a year later.
“Moving here is just the best thing that happened to me I think,” Ms. Park said.
When she got the call from Robert Gilson, owner of the Plaza, she thought moving so soon after opening her doors was crazy. But after meeting with him and hearing about his plans for the Plaza, she just couldn’t say no.
“They had this vision for the Plaza to be this nice shopping destination for women. They wanted to have very cohesive businesses that make sense to be near each other,” said Ms. Park.
Treat has fit into this vision quite well, said Ms. Park. It has plenty of overlapping clientele with the restaurants, clothing stores, and other businesses in the shopping plaza. Customers from Blossom, the beauty salon next door, will even wander over with foils on their heads to pick up some Treat products.
Recently, Treat hired a woman to administer medical beauty treatments like Botox.
“That’s brand new and that’s something that I’ve wanted to happen for a long time. It’s finally happened and she’s really happy here and it’s a really good synergistic fit,” Ms. Park said.
“I think that’s the direction we’re going to go; offer more non-invasive treatments that’s going to give them results but with less downtime and not as invasive or expensive.”