In the heart of Victoria Park Village, East London a progressive new skincare retailer, big. has emerged, offering a haven for conscious beauty enthusiasts. Founded by Lisa Targett Bolding and long-term friend Marijke Adderley big. is a testament to their shared vision and passion for sustainability.
Marijke previously worked as a makeup artist at Mecca, Australia’s renowned beauty retailer and as a dietitian. She teamed up with Lisa, who has an extensive background as a start-up investor as well as experience in advertising and tech to establish the company which opened its doors in April 2023. Lisa already had the seeds of the idea and the timing felt serendipitous for Marijke to make the move to the UK. Their complementary skill sets and shared love for all things eco led them to double down and start their sustainable skincare journey as a retailer.
Both Marijke and Lisa have always embraced a considered and conscious lifestyle, extending beyond fashion and beauty to encompass eco-friendly practices such as composting and waste reduction. They noticed it was significantly more difficult to find sustainable brands when it came to bathroom products. This shared realisation, coupled with their drive to do something about it, became the catalyst for their venture.
Armed with a curated list of their favourite eco brands, Marijke and Lisa initiated connections, sharing their unique concept and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response. The notion of being curated alongside like-minded brands resonated deeply with their partners, creating a sense of unity and shared purpose. big. aimed to establish itself as a haven where these brands, united by their values could thrive together and customers could be given easy access to a world of eco skincare products.
At the core of big.’s mission lies a relentless pursuit of reducing waste in the beauty industry, with a special focus on packaging. Conventional products rely heavily on virgin plastics and around 95% of beauty packaging ends up being discarded, exacerbating environmental concerns. As London’s first wellness and beauty retailer, big. is dedicated to sustainability and addresses this issue head-on. They carefully consider both packaging and the overall sustainability ethos of the brands they showcase, partnering with brands that demonstrate a strong mission and commitment to ethical practices.
The physical space is more than just a retail store; it’s an oasis for rejuvenation and self-care. In addition to their thoughtfully curated product selection, they offer treatment rooms where customers can indulge in facials and bodywork. Collaborating with local bodywork practitioners such as MASAJ from Shoreditch, big. ensures a deep and meaningful connection with their customers who share their mindset. Their rota of residencies showcasing techniques for lymphatic drainage, deep cleansing and skin steaming gives customers the opportunity to explore products and experience their effects on their skin. Impulse buying based on fleeting trends has become commonplace, so big. encourages customers to make more informed decisions that align with their individual needs.
To fully embed their eco-conscious ethos, big. collaborated with London-based interior design studio Nina and Co to design big.’s retail space. By using materials like clay, seaweed, algae and mushroom, they have achieved a gender-neutral, earthy and natural space. Other materials have been salvaged or repurposed such as the discarded plasterboard used to build their central table legs and their POS stand which further reinforces their commitment to nature and sustainability.
Marijke and Lisa feel the local community has warmly embraced big., fostering a sense of camaraderie and familiarity. Customers wave when they walk past and local store owners forge connections. Repeat customers eager to delve deeper into the world of sustainable skincare frequently visit the store either for a browse of new products or with specific questions in mind.
big. continues to evolve with plans to develop a loyalty program that offers exclusive invitations to events and opportunities to meet brand founders. They are also planning to implement a recycling program, encouraging customers to return products for discounts – a true embodiment of their commitment to sustainability and community engagement.
Among the carefully selected brands featured at big. are Haeckles from Margate, known for their hand-harvested seaweed products and home compostable packaging; London-based AKT, offering deodorant balms with a commitment to natural ingredients; sans[ceuticals] from New Zealand, championing transparency in the industry; Salt & Stone from California, utilising ocean-recovered plastics in their packaging; and Tenth Muse, also from London, specialising in refillable solid perfume balms. These brands, along with many others contribute to the diverse and eco-conscious offerings available at big.
Whether you’re a beauty novice or a devotee, big. offers an unparalleled customer experience. Step into their serene and inviting space for personalised skincare guidance and discover a world of ethical beauty brands. As Marijke and Lisa continue their journey they inspire us all to embrace ethical beauty and make choices that are not only good for ourselves but also for our planet.