By now, most people will know that there is no shortage of good-looking natural skincare products out there. Yet what the Los Angeles-based brand Noto Botanics is doing differently, is doubling down on the IRL experience, while most of its other counterparts remain online. The gender-fluid skincare and cosmetics label recently opened its first store in LA’s Highland Park neighbourhood, located on the corner of Figueroa Street and Ave 50 – an airy, photogenic space that was formerly a Chevrolet showroom in the 1930s.
To bring it up to date, the label’s founder, make-up artist Gloria Noto, worked with the design and architecture firm Venn Studio, who drew inspiration from the period details, such as the existing terrazzo floors and Art Deco-inspired arches, at the front of the building. Once past the arched front windows, Noto Botanics’ old world space has been cleverly updated with elegant architectural touches that give rise to an earthy, yet refined atmosphere. An eye-catching wall, featuring custom-designed shelving, serves as one anchorpoint f the room, while an inviting sofa, inspired by Ueli Berger’s Snake sofa, offers a spot where visitors can enjoy complimentary tea made by herbalist Melanie Griffith, that can also be purchased in-store. Finished off with painted mint green walls, a pink travertine sink, carved out alcoves and beds of crushed gravel that serve as product displays, the well-heeled interior perfectly offsets the brand’s strikingly minimalist packaging.
Noto Botanics’ pared back aesthetic is matched by an equally straightforward ethos. All-natural, non-gender specific and multi-functional, each of its products, which range from face creams and serums to a self-enhancing spectrum of highlighters, lip and cheek stains, is packed with simple, yet highly efficacious ingredients.
Aside from creating ethically minded products that actually work, Noto Botanics is also armed with philanthropic edge. Proceeds from sales of its Agender oil – a vetiver and lavender-scented hemp seed oil that works as a soothing body or hair oil – benefit a rotating selection of organizations, including the Woman’s Center DTLA, LGBT Youth Center and Planned Parenthood, in a bid to create impact through action.
‘I launched Agender Oil because I wanted to be more than a company that puts out a product that claims to care about its community and environment, but rather to claim this and also apply action through it,’ Gloria says. ‘It's important for me to connect with my community through my work, as a business owner, and as a queer woman.’
To this end, the store also offers a selection of jewellery, ceramics, queer-interest and feminist books, clothing and incense, from like-minded brands and artists. Just as the saying goes, charity certainly begins at home.
Words: Pei-Ru Keh
Interiors Photography: Kacie Tomita