Neighborhood: Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia
Vibe: Feminine, Clean, Fresh, Curated, Niche
Good For: Beauty buffs, wellness and apothecary goods for him & her
Calling all beauty enthusiasts - a brand new cosmetics shop has landed in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood and it’s called The Indie Shelf. Founded by Sabeen Zia about a month ago, The Indie Shelf offers unique, innovative, and effective beauty brands from around the world. Its name “Indie” pays homage to the numerous small-batch brands featured in the shop - peep the impressive roster here.
Aside from it’s incredibly beautiful and feminine aesthetic, The Indie Shelf is special because it truly owns the beauty and wellness retail “space” in Philadelphia. In other words, I haven’t really seen a shop like this throughout my time blogging about local boutiques in the area. Sure, there are many lovely apothecary sections in other shops but never a store that is purely dedicated to the cause. I love the concept and highly respect Sabeen for translating her past experience and vast knowledge of the industry into her own business; a tall task that she has successfully executed.
I am no beauty whiz by any means. In fact if we are going to get really transparent I haven’t really shopped for cosmetics beyond the cold aisles of my local drug store, but the Indie Shelf makes me want to learn more about this fascinating (and fast-growing) industry. Therefore, I reached out to Sabeen to pick her brain about becoming an independent business owner and to also get some true insider knowledge on beauty in general. Read on to learn more about Sabeen’s inspiring story and what you can expect to find at The Indie Shelf!
Q: What inspired you to open your own store?
A: I launched my own cosmetic brand online last year. I know the journey of building a small brand the obstacles of getting into retail stores. I wanted to create a space for unique brands creating effective products and support them. I also wanted to bring these great brands to the Philadelphia community - who are so loyal to neighborhood businesses and support small businesses. I would travel to different states (and countries!) and find these unique shops with products you could never touch, smell, or play with because they're not easily available or online only. I wanted our neighbors to come in and see these brands themselves!
Q: How did you execute your creative vision? The decor is amazing.
A: Pinterest and Instagram is a deep hole that inspires you and makes you believe you can do anything, haha! I love my color palette - I always loved it on clothes, furniture, and even dinnerware! I knew I wanted to learn towards that palette when I started to work on it. Many similar stores in other states are beautiful! Most of them have a clean white look, which you can't go wrong on. But I wanted to add some color and make indie beauty look fun too! The color block was a great touch. Melissa Alam, who did my branding for The Indie Shelf (she's aaaamazing!), helped with creating the color block in addition to the setup. It was fun - we were just randomly taping different angles and hoped that it'd work out! The wallpaper was something I found online, crossed my fingers that it'd look great and just went with it! I'm so glad people love it.
Q: Tell us a bit about your career path. What attracted you to the cosmetics industry?
A: I've been so lucky to have the opportunities that I've had in the past. I had recently graduated with a B.S in Toxicology and moved to Houston with my family. I found a job at a peptide lab. The schedule was 6 am to 3 pm and since I didn't know many people, I took a part time job at Sephora. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school but just didn't know what I wanted to do my masters in. I LOVED working at Sephora. I was laid off at the peptide lab (blessing in disguise!) and moved to full time at Sephora. I didn't want to waste my bachelor's degree so I started to search for majors that would link beauty to science. And there it was - Cosmetic Science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. I applied and was accepted, so I left Sephora and worked for L'Oreal as a haircare chemist full time while going to graduate school full time. L’Oreal was a great place to start because you learn about the formulation process of products. Then, I moved back to Houston and found a job in the manufacturing department with a mineral makeup company called Colorescience. After that, I went to another small brand haircare lab and worked in manufacturing and the lab for a bit. They acquired a NY brand called Blowpro and that's when they gave me the opportunity to be in product development and marketing. I was lucky to have all these opportunities because it gave me the chance to learn about the process - from product development to formulations to market. Some employers would put that against me saying I'm not experienced in one area, rather just all over the place. I take it as a blessing because it allowed me to not only launch a brand but now also a shop. I'm still learning though, and have a lot to learn!
Q: What is one of the biggest beauty myths you can bust?
A: Not all synthetic ingredients are harmful. And not all natural ingredient are good for you.
Q: What is a beauty trend that is really worth following?
A: Clean your brushes! OR Masking
Q: Tell us more about what we can get at The Indie Shelf - what's one of your favorite products at the moment?
A: Everything! and if I missed something, let me know and I'll find it. The Indie Shelf carries skincare, haircare, fragrance, cosmetics, tools and accessories, candles, dental care, baby care, men's care, pet care! My favorite? Oh, this is a hard question. I brought in everything I loved to the shop so.. all of it?
Q: Anything exciting in the pipeline at the shop? I.e. events, makeup tutorials, etc that we can look out for?
A: Yes!! I've got events planned but just need to catch up on a few things and then I'll confirm them soon. There will be small RSVP ticketed events/classes that will teach about caring for your skin, how to do a cat eye, what brush to use, etc. Got some cool stuff on the agenda - just bear with me!
On behalf of all Philadelphians I want to thank Sabeen immensely for taking the leap and opening up this amazing shop that we desperately needed. Like I said, it’s really pretty to look at, has an amazing assortment of products and also has something special that you won’t find in many other small boutiques: a bonafide beauty expert that truly wants to help you with whatever you need. New York City might have Glossier HQ but we have The Indie Shelf now, so watch out world! :)
Till next time,