The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Vegan beauty retail store permanently closes due to COVID-19

This lemon sugar exfoliating scrub, one of Lulu’s Vegan Skin products, claims to work for those with acne-prone skin and can leave the skin soft. “[Richards] had this lemon scrub. It is literally just sugar, lemon and lemon zest and like not that many ingredients,” Baker said. Image taken June 9. (Zoha Jan/ The Union) Photo credit: Zoha Jan

As COVID-19 peaked, a vegan beauty product retail store near El Camino College had to close down.

Lulu’s Vegan Skin is now permanently closed, and the owner has moved her business process online. Rachel Richards, the founder of Lulu’s Vegan Skin, works from home.

“Before COVID I had the website but I was also attending vegan fairs, big street fairs, trade shows that sort of business as well, which brought in a lot of revenue,” Richards said.

However, due to COVID-19, business at the retail shop and events slowed down.

“I started a plant-based vegan skincare line because I was pretty much-making products for my children,” Richards said. “I wanted my children to have a more natural, holistic approach to skincare and just basic everyday products that we use and put on our body.”

Richards was going through a “hard time” in her life when she founded the company, she said, having divorced her husband. However, Richards’s daughter, Elizabeth Laubhan “Lulu,” after whom Richards named the company, encouraged her to go out and start selling her products.

“It pretty much grew from three products to over 30, I think 35 products I have now,” Richards said. “I like to just use whatever comes from the earth and I don’t use anything that is manmade, or that has been created in a science lab.”

Richards said she’d rather do business on a smaller scale, where it can be more “intimate, personal and appreciative.” She has also decided to stay in this location and has no plans to open another retail store.

“My business was really ready to take off. I had investors, it was going to become a huge cosmetic line, skincare line,” Richards said. “I had investors who were ready to build my business, but then COVID hit so of course, everybody pulled out.”

She has priced her products so that college students can also afford them. She wants her vegan skincare products to be affordable to everyone.

“Most vegan products, skincare products are overpriced,” Richards said. “I’d like to keep my price point to be able to accommodate everybody who wants healthy alternatives and holistic skincare.”

Richards makes her products in small batches because they have less shelf life due to a no-preservative ingredient list.

“I have all the recipes down where it’s so easy now to create the products. I do everything. I create the products, I package them, I label them, I sell them, I do everything myself, I don’t outsource anything,” Richards said.

Ashley Kiria Baker, Richard’s assistant, helped out when Lulu’s Vegan Skin was in California. They both met at a vegan-friendly farmers market on a Vegan Sunday.

Baker was doing a pop-up store for Richards once a week in Redondo Beach on Thursdays. Due to COVID-19, there were so many restrictions at that time so she had to stop.

“[Rachel] actually taught me everything about her products,” Baker said. “I didn’t personally make [any,] that’s all her, but I helped her to sell the products, to market [the products] to customers.”

Baker said her favorite products from the collection are the different body scrubs.

“I used to make my own but hers is a little bit [better]. It has the oils, it has like everything that [one’s] skin actually needs.” Baker said. “I went to her house a couple of times and I saw she had everything homemade she literally made [products] with natural, natural ingredients.”

Richards moved to Hawaii and started selling her products there similar to how she was doing in California.

“People here in LA, they’re progressive and stuff, but in Hawaii even more,” Baker said. “They’re really focused on ‘Oh, is this organic?’ so there’s more of a market [there], I believe.”

Similar to Baker, Laubhan helped her mother when the business was in California prior to COVID-19. Laubhan is also planning to help her in the future after COVID-19 gets settled.

“The online business has grown due to COVID-19 in a sense because people are trying to get products online,” Laubhan said.

Her future goal is to take over her mother’s business in the future and generate more products that will focus on the “new generation,” Laubhan said.

“COVID actually helped me reprioritize my life and figure out what I wanted and what was really important to me,” Richards said. “I like where I’m at right now, money is not a factor. It’s more a personal relationship and just people really appreciating the product.”

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