It’s been called so many things.
“The Museum of Ice Cream for Makeup,” according to the team at Racked.
“An Instagrammable Makeup Playground,” wrote the consistently effusive gang at Bustle.
It is, called by its proper name, the Winky Lux pop-up shop in New York’s SoHo neighborhood – and by all accounts it is the concept shop that has blown the internet’s collective mind.
Part shopping experience, part museum of makeup, the shop is designed to be both experienced in person and also virtually through the Instagram accounts for those who make the trip. In total, the shop will feature several different technicolor rooms bedecked with all of the brightness and beauty items any sane human could ever hope to want.
By a spokesperson’s description, the Winky Lux shop aims to be the “first fully-immersive experience store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.”
Winky Lux, of course, is by design an Insta-immersive brand that leans hard into selling not just cosmetics, but a certain whimsical experience of beauty as well. Since its founding in 2015, it has adopted the unicorn as its unofficial mascot, and has found new and exciting ways to infuse everything, everywhere with glitter (think glitter lip balm and glitter puff spray that is described by one reviewer as “akin to a fairy lightly blowing magic dust on you”).
In short, not quite a shopping experience for everyone – but if “cute” and “sparkly” are critical to one’s cosmetics religion and Instagram is the church where you pray, Winky Lux and its new concept stores may well be the spiritual homeland you never knew you needed.
“No one seems excited to go to traditional retail,” said Winky Lux’s Co-founder Natalie Mackey. “The rise of Color Factory, Museum of Ice Cream, Happy Place, Candytopia — these seem like big-format retail concepts that people were really excited to go to.”
And so the Winky Lux team decided to build a similar such concept shop for cosmetics, despite the fact that it already operates its own store in New York and is sold at major makeup retailers including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Ulta and soon Sephora.
And, when a customer goes to buy from any of those hubs, the trip to the store is free. Visiting Winky Lux’s New York concept shop, on the other hand, has an associated cost. To get in the door, one needs a ticket, and each ticket is $10 (though customers will get $10 off the cost of their purchase). Plus, visits are on a timer: Guests only get about 25 minutes’ worth of access with their tickets – and yes, the unicorn spirit guides in the shop will keep customers moving.
Like all good things, this will come to an end: The shop is only set up to run for six months.
But the Winky Lux pop-up shops are planned for more than just New York – this show is going on the road. Pop-ups are already planned for Chicago and Atlanta in September and Nashville and Miami in October.
“The idea was to take those moments where you could create your own content and marry it with commerce,” Mackey said. “If you don’t understand what Winky Lux is about when you walk through the door, well, we sort of beat you over the head with it!”
Winky Lux is an unusual player in beauty in a lot of ways: According to Mackey, they are pioneers in what she calls “fast beauty,” a business model that has the firm scouring social media for trends and then pushing those trends into their factories and suppliers’ hands so the products can be turned around in 45 days. Traditionally, beauty brands need two years to roll out new products.
Now, by marrying a unique and social media-centered experience into the mix, Winky is hoping to cement its hold on younger shoppers, who want to be inspired by what they buy.
One 10-year-old shopper talking to Racked noted that they found the interior aesthetics (their phrasing) of the shop pleasing, and thought it would be the type of place people her age might shop. “I mean, as long as you can get a good Instagram photo and a decent lip balm out of it, most people my age would definitely go for that!”