Thursday, March 11, 2010

Potion shuts, but services live on in owner's new venture

High-end local beauty boutique Potion, which shut its last location in February, may return as a retail store in the future - but for now is living on in a different form through owner Samantha Smith's new ventures, including a makeup line and east Charlotte studio.

The original Potion opened on East Boulevard in Dilworth in 2002, and the chain briefly had three locations before contracting to one, at Birkdale Village in Huntersville. That location closed Feb. 19, primarily due to the inability to reach a new lease agreement, Smith said.
"The nuts and bolts of it is, the space we were in was really expensive," she said. "With the economy the way it is, it's just been increasingly difficult to maintain what we were five years ago, and we had to make changes and sacrifices within the business." The shop, which had many customers that worked in the hard-hit real estate and banking industries, had already switched up some of the lines it was carrying, to offer more affordable options. Though customers were still visiting, Smith said, they weren't spending as much, which meant that the decision to close, in the end, boiled down to money. It was, she said, a last-minute decision, as she was still hoping to work something out. But now, she said, she's enjoying not being tethered to a retail space and fixed hours.

Smith has opened a new east Charlotte studio, Samantha Alexandra, which offers appointments for many of the same services she used to provide through Potion, including hair and makeup. She's also working on creating her own cosmetics line, also called Samantha Alexandra, which should be finished by the end of the year. The new arrangement has given her more time and freedom to travel for bridal and photo shoot work, she said. She will come to customers for on-site work, or they can visit her studio, she said. She can also arrange skin care services, she said.

Smith isn't ruling out a return to retail, and indeed says she's continuing to look for suitable retail space in central Charlotte. She says she plans on waiting to see what the economy does during the next few months before deciding whether it's worth it to open a store again. In the meantime, she says, she's still doing makeup every day.
"I just want to help women get a really good, solid, professional opinion on their makeup," she said, "and I'm sure a lot of people appreciate that."