Meet the Member: Sonia Khemiri, Co-founder of Beautyque

Member news | December 14, 2021

Sonia is the Founder of her own beauty Brand in NYC and the co-founder of Beautyque NYC. She has a master's degree in Finance and more than 15 years of experience in corporate environments. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and has been involved in many industries, including restaurants, real estate, entertainment, medical and now beauty.

Beautyque is not your average traditional beauty store. Could you share with us what makes your approach so unique and what sets you apart from other beauty stores?

Beautyque NYC is the first 3D multi-brand retail virtual storefront in the Beauty Industry. We aim to bridge beauty with technology innovation to make our experiences as immersive as possible.

We introduce customers to independent (Indie) brands, start-ups, incredibly small to medium size, who deeply care about their innovative products and need exposure. Our carefully curated products are sure to bring something new to the table and level up your everyday routine.

In addition, When we select our brands, we apply demanding criteria: Mission-driven founders, highly efficient products formulated using safe ingredients, strong values such as sustainability, cruelty-free, female leadership, inclusivity, and social responsibility are among the key qualities we look for in our brands.

What is your take on Facebook’s big push into building the Metaverse? Would you like Beautyque to eventually have a storefront in the Metaverse?

Facebook is taking a leap of faith by investing in the virtual world. As I understand, they believe that for the next decade and maybe beyond this is the direction for innovation. The connection between people is evolving in different modalities and they are taking a bet on it evolving in the virtual space as well. In addition, by using Oculus as their proprietary end tool ( instead of smartphones and computers), they will also have full control over the end game user.

While looking at Facebook's current and past success, one would think that this is going to be the future. However, the response to Metaverse is mitigated, as some believe that this is the direction to go others believe it is not.

Being in the virtual reality space myself through Beautyque, we believe that this is going to be part of the future. We base our conclusion by observing what is going on with what we do but also in the video game industry, the NFTs evolution, the virtual spaces in e-commerce, showrooms… etc. We are already using Oculus to present Beautyque in a virtual space when we do pop-ups in SoHo, NYC, and the reaction is always mesmerizing! We are studying and analyzing how we can be involved in NFTs and the Oculus space as well. There are currently only 3 million users in Oculus, but with Facebook’s investment and their goal to reach 1 billion users in the next decade, I firmly believe Beautyque should be incorporating this new technology into our venue.

For our readers who may not be familiar with Virtual Reality Retail, can you share with us more about how this next-gen shopping experience works?

Beautyque NYC was intended to open as a physical retail store in SoHo, NYC the spring of 2020 by Indie beauty brands for Indie beauty brands. The store was meant to be a space where you could find personalized wellness, health, and beauty solutions at your fingertips. Due to the pandemic, we quickly pivoted to launch as an e-commerce site with a virtual 3D storefront. Within a few months, Beautyque NYC built a community of over 40 brands and almost 11,000 beauty enthusiasts!! Surely demonstrating a need!!

If we were the only ones doing this, it would be more of a hobby, although we were the first, Christian Dior, Dermalogica, Kylie cosmetics… to name a few, did the same and there will be other platforms developed with the time to create even a better experience than we have now. It's only the beginning. We are convinced of this concept and we are working on building our platform that will close the gaps of the inefficiencies we experienced ourselves.

Virtual reality is about the experience and when in a digital space you can get immersed in a store that looks like a real one, and be able to learn about the store, the brands, the products, and shop in one space, instead of a regular website. This is just a great experience, bringing the senses up for customers while shopping online and a great digital presence for brands.

Is the future of shopping fully virtual?

We believe that physical space will never go away. Humans by nature need to touch, scent, smell, see, hear...we need to feel. Virtually we can satisfy some of these needs but not all. As long as we are not able to reach all senses virtually, virtual and physical will always coexist, and thankfully so,  because we don't want to lose touch with reality!

Your website states that Beautyque believes in an extended approach to what beauty means to women and men of modern times. Can you expand on this?

Beauty is not just about makeup and skincare for women only. We are in a time of diversity, where we are getting to a level of accepting all of humanity and all the differences that humanity entails, where indie beauty brands are pushing the boundaries in the beauty industry not only by bringing effective, sustainable clean products, support different communities missions but also pushing bigger brands to change. Indie brands represent 5% of the beauty industry and they are expecting a growth of 10% by the next couple of years. For a market of more than 500 billion dollars internationally, the number is not small. We believe in all these values strongly. We want these brands on our platform. We want to bring a positive experience to our customers to think, feel and be beautiful in an experiential space and use the products that will help them keep that.

What trends are you currently seeing in the Virtual Reality & Beauty industries, and how are they shaping your business goals for 2022?

In VR, we are just at the tip of the iceberg, however, as a result of the pandemic, we saw many deep pockets companies investing in this technology by bringing virtual reality shopping, like us, showrooms, marketing operations using VR, and more. Without forgetting the NFTS in art and also luxury is evolving and virtual reality is part of it. Video games and brands are already collaborating to propose products to use in the VR space. Metaverse as we spoke above is a big investment. Brands will be more and more involved in adding a VR space on their website because it brings more traffic, more experience to the customer, especially in a very crowded digital environment. We will see more Brands in VR, video games, meta…in the next few years.

The beauty industry is pushing towards sustainability and clean products ( thanks to the Indie brands who are pushing the boundaries). The pandemic pushed the brands to be more effective digitally. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and the use of Artificial intelligence are here to help them grow even more.

For us, this year is about growing by connecting more with the customer, by bringing more unique brands, adding more experience to our 3D space, making it easier to navigate, shopping in a more experiential environment, embedding efficient tools in AR, and use AI to its optimal level. We bring unique brands and products that we believe in, to our customers in a unique experiential space, and bring awareness, engagement, and sales to our brands for them to get to the next level. 

On another hand, we are also already proposing to brands for us to help create their VR space to add to their website because we have the knowledge and the technology. 

How can members start engaging with your brand today?

If there are any members of the beauty- wellness industry, we can connect, as collaboration is totally in our DNA. Should they wish to help brands that are with us, be helped by our Brands, or purchase beauty products from Beautyque, we can be of assistance. If any member of the beauty- wellness industry is a Brand that thinks we’re a fit ( beauty, Sexual wellness, Nutrition, Wellness), we would love to talk and see if we can work together.

Is there anything else you would like to share with FACC-NY Members?

We are in a phase where we are looking for an investor that believes in what we do and invests in us to grow and be part of this digital evolution.