Simon Tooley, the founder of Montreal beauty boutique and spa Etiket, has made a name for himself through his connoisseur’s approach to self-care and beauty products. With a major retail footprint on Sherbrooke Street West, Etiket is beloved by online shoppers across the country for its selection of niche fragrances and mix of medical-grade and natural skin care. Now, the store is on the cusp of expansion.
In February, Tooley will open his first location in Toronto at the Well, a sprawling, open-air mix of shops, restaurants, residences and workspaces just west of the city’s downtown core. Designed by the Montreal-based firm Sajo, Etiket’s 6,500-square-foot space will offer Torontonians a chance to connect locally with its impressive fragrance selection including hard-to-find brands such as Nishane and L’Artisan, top-of-the-line skin care, including options from SkinCeuticals and SkinMedica, and an assortment of cosmetics. The space also houses a spa with six treatment rooms offering a variety of facials including Dr. Barbara Sturm treatments, a first for Canada.
At a time when so many beauty brands are taking a digital-first approach, Tooley explains why he’s betting big on more in-person encounters.
How long has your new Toronto spot been in the works?
We’d been looking for a Toronto location for a very long time. Then we focused on Montreal, COVID happened, our business grew and it was like, “Okay, let’s do this again.” When I understood what the concept at the Well was, that’s when it started to make sense for me. What I like about the whole thing is there’s a lot of local businesses. They didn’t just go down that route of, let’s just do the usual big retailers, so I’m really excited about that.
What’s different about the in-store experience?
The theme we’ve come up with is the enhanced garden. Sort of this idea that, post-COVID, we want to be enveloped. I think that in skin care and beauty and what we see and we feel within the company, what’s happening within our expanded location in Montreal is, well, it is about wellness. It’s not just, “I need skin care.” It’s, “okay, so I’m coming for a treatment. How do I finish that off? What else is there?” I want to carry it all the way through. Our level of training and what our staff can offer is different. We almost become coaches in many ways. When it comes to the beauty, skin care and fragrance side, it’s much more of a journey.
How is that wellness-first approach playing out day-to-day?
Our business and how we look at things is very much driven through the spa. We want you to come in for treatments so we can get you on the right road, we can see your skin, we can make sure it’s okay and then start you on a program. Obviously not everyone ends up in our treatment rooms but it’s definitely part of who we are and it also affects how we train our staff and the level of knowledge that everyone has.
Beauty has experienced incredible growth online. Why is a face-to-face connection still important?
One of the biggest challenges is somebody will come in and say, “My friend uses this and I want it.” And it’s like, okay, but your friend has normal skin and you have acne and that’s not the right product for you. To me, our biggest challenge is to get people to reach out and ask us for our expertise. Now, we’re giving people in Toronto that opportunity.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Etiket in Toronto opens in February. For more information, visit etiket.ca.