CAP Beauty is Setting the Standard for Natural Cosmetics

CAP Beauty is Setting the Standard for Natural Cosmetics

West Village based CAP Beauty and its founder Kerrilynn Pamer are leading the pack in natural beauty.

West Village based CAP Beauty and its founder Kerrilynn Pamer are leading the pack in natural beauty.

Text: Carolyn Hanson

Walking into the CAP Beauty's location in the West Village, you're greeted with a sight distinctly apart from the grey and brown surroundings. Duck into the unassuming door past the flag outside labeled with the brand's logo, and you're transported into a millennial pink beauty den, with natural skincare and beauty products to cure or address any issue you can think of lining the walls. Because the space is so engaging, the employees look and act more like clients than they do staff, milling around the store helping customers or simply checking out whatever new products are on the shelves. (Despite the fact the space is small, you could go around looking at every single product and by the time you got back to the beginning, something would be changed.)

But CAP Beauty isn't just a store, it's a spa too. Weave a bit further into the back, and the store splinters off into small, cozy rooms, in which you can get acupuncture, your eyebrows waxed, have your astrological chart read by the person who holds their current wellness residency, or receive one of their signature facial treatments–you can choose from a predetermined type of treatment or just what is called "The Facial," a treatment completely customized to your needs. After the facial, you'll leave with glowing skin; this isn't the kind of place that makes your face so red that you have to hide for the next 24 hours. Although, you will leave feeling so relaxed that nobody will blame you for wanting to go home and sleep afterwards.

V sat down with one of the founders, Kerrilynn Pamer, and discuss her motivations for opening CAP, how she fell in love with natural beauty, and where she sees the future going.

"One out of twenty women would leave with something and really be happy in terms of clothing, and so when I started a small category of naturals it totally shifted that experience for them," Pamer says. She's referring to her time as founder and owner of Castor & Pollux, a West Village clothing store that she opened in 2001.  "It was people engaging with beauty–which I really think is sort of a loose term–in a totally different way, where they were actually taking care of themselves, and coming out from this really positive place it was like a reveal of something that was already there. It wasn't like they were covering things up, they were just revealing things that were part of themselves, because they were taking care of themselves in a different way. And that was just a total turn."

It was that turn (along with the realization that certain big-name skincare products were aggravating her Celiac Disease) which led to her opening CAP Beauty with her long-time friend and now business partner, Cindy DiPrima. As she tells it, she was initially hesitant to have a business partner, but didn't believe that she could open the store on her own. And DiPrima was not only who she brought the idea to initially but also had been the one pushing her to make the dream a reality. Now, DiPrima acts as the Chief Creative Officer to Pamer's Chief Executive Officer, and the pair have a wildly successful business selling natural cosmetic and spa treatments. And they do adhere to a singular concept of natural, which they define strictly: "Our definition–which is not a universal definition, it is the CAP Beauty internal/external definition that is being used–[is that] all of the products that we carry do not have any synthetics in them. We don't believe that synthetic is bad, we think that there are some that are fine and there are some that are not fine. But when Cindy and I came up with the concept, we wanted it to be 100% natural, and that's what we over many hours and days and weeks and months and years decided would be our definition." She even goes on to say that there are brands she wishes she could carry, but can't because they use synthetics. However, they do carry brands that make natural products but maybe don't necessarily make every product natural; each product's ingredient list is gone over comprehensively to make sure no synthetics snake their way in. Pamer makes it clear, however, that they really have nothing against synthetics.

CAP doesn't just carry outside brands, though. From delicious coconut butter (use it as a creamer in coffee or tea!) to individual packets of matcha (perfect for keeping in your bag,) the CAP Beauty line of products focuses on internal wellness as a means to complement external wellness. Next up? A CBD product, the first of its kind for the brand and one of the first of its kind coming from a brand of a similar background. The product, which serves as a supplement, is a mixture of oils including CBD, coconut, and avocado, as well as other goodies. It'll be the kind of thing you can put on toast or in smoothies, no pill-swallowing involved. Unlike many CBD products, this one will be able to be sold across state lines as well because its CBD is not domestic, so don't fret if you can't get to the physical CAP location; if it intrigues you, no matter where you are in the U.S., you have access.

Access is a big consideration for CAP. In our conversation, Pamer stresses again and again that one of the most important pillars the company stands on is the idea that natural beauty not be prohibitive, particularly in terms of cost. But the idea of access also extends to other places–there is no ideal CAP customer. In a company of roughly 15 employees, the product selection process is fairly democratic, as although obviously Pamer and DiPrima have final say, all employees are part of it. This is simply because what works for one person won't necessarily work for another, and the two founders are more than aware of the need for inclusivity in beauty, whether that be in terms of price, skin type, skin tone, or any other number of factors. What's most important to the founders is that a prospective product or line feels good and resonates with real people. If it doesn't, they won't carry it; if it does, they will.

"Beauty is wellness. Wellness is beauty." is CAP's tagline, and speaking to Pamer, it's easy to see how dedicated the company is to that philosophy. She raves about the products they carry, and it's clear she's genuinely excited when she speaks about the people they work with, from the brand owners to San Francisco based aesthetician Kristina Holey, who designed the massage-based protocol for CAP's facials. Both owners are hardcore practitioners of Transcendental Meditation. When asked about the future of wellness, Palmer doesn't speak about any one product she sells, and in fact names bacteria as the area that shows the most promise for the future. Although CAP may deal primarily in cosmetics, they clearly and openly ascribe to a holistic ideal of wellness, regardless of what aspects of it they can and cannot sell.

By the way, that good feeling you feel when you walk through CAP's doors? It's rose quartz. It's under every doorway.

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