By Devon Johnson
Toronto-based natural skincare brand Consonant Skincare is currently expanding across the Greater Toronto Area, having recently opened a new store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. This marks the company's third location, following the openings of two successful retail locations at Richmond-Adelaide Centre in Toronto's Financial District, and at 2479 Yonge Street in the city's Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood.
Consonant Skincare was founded in Toronto by skincare enthusiast Bill Baker. “A friend turned me on to natural skincare around ten years ago," says Mr. Baker, who suffered from dry skin himself before discovering natural ingredients were key to solving his skincare needs.
Consonant Skincare uses 100% natural ingredients in its product range. Although 'all-natural' is a term thrown around loosely in the skincare industry, Consonant Skincare is one of the few brands that holds true to the meaning. “Our skincare is truly 100% natural, without qualifications,” emphasizes Mr. Baker.
To Consonant, 'all-natural' means no added fragrance, no parabens, or synthetics - only ingredients from natural origin aimed to give customers their best skin. "Most natural skincare products on the market contain usually 97-98% natural ingredients. We believe the magic is in the extra 2-3%," says Mr. Baker.
As Canadians are beginning to care more about what they put in and on their bodies, more consumers continue to search for true all-natural skincare products. Many mainstay retailers in Canada including Kiehl's, LUSH, and The Body Shop have all explicitly marketed the 'natural' aspects of their brands. Consonant Skincare emphasizes that their products contain none of the harsh and irritating ingredients that can be found in other skincare brands. Their use of natural ingredients features prominently at the beginning of their ingredient list. For example, Consonant's Natural Lip Conditioner contains pure almond oil as its top ingredient, followed by beeswax and jojoba oil - nothing else added.
Consonant Skincare's product ranges from skin care products (moisturizers, eye creams, cleansers, serums), to body care products (bath bombs, body lotion, exfoliators).
Consonant's product offerings remain relatively small. For example, only two different types of moisturizers are available - ultra moisturizing organic face cream, and ultra moisturizing organic face cream for "dry skin". Why not a wider variety of selections of moisturizers like other skincare brands?
"A friend of mine said 'You don’t need 18 moisturizers, you need one or two good options," Mr. Baker says. Rather than confusing customers with multiple options, the company focuses on limited selection. Although the company plans to release new products that will complement its core offerings "I don’t see us ever starting to add 3, 4, or 5 moisturizers,” Mr. Baker says.
With no synthetic preservatives added to the products, how do Consonant Skincare's products stay so fresh? "It was one of our biggest challenges to develop formulations that would stay fresh, and have a meaningful shelf life after purchase". Consonant Skincare's products use a combination of Lactose Peroxidase and Glucose Oxidase. This combination allows products stay fresh for 12-18 months, and also means the products don't have to be refrigerated.
Consonant Skincare opened its first location almost six years ago on Yonge Street in the Yonge & Eglinton shopping area. A second location followed in the spring of 2015 at Richmond-Adelaide Centre in Toronto's PATH System. Consonant's latest location opened in October of 2016 at Yorkdale Shopping Centre -- although Mr. Baker says this location will be a temporary location and that the company is searching for another space inside the mall.
Although a very new company with low brand recognition to the general shopper, Mr. Baker says the company is 100% interested in future expansion. "It has been a great year for us," mentioning the company is accelerating at a fast rate. Consonant has begun to sell their products at Sephora in the U.S. and Canada, giving the company further brand recognition among skincare enthusiasts. The company's products are also featured heavily in beauty magazines and lifestyle television shows as 'top skincare picks'.
As for Consonant branded retail stores, the company plans to expand their store count. Mr. Baker says the choice for Consonant to open its own stores was to gain a closer relationship with their customers."You're not really hearing honest feedback from customers [without a retail store]. You’re not able to identify the current trends from customers as quickly", says Mr. Baker, discussing the benefits of companies having their own retail spaces.
In terms of expansion, the company remains quiet on specific locations. A mall store, a street-fronting store, a store in Toronto's PATH gives Consonant a chance to see how their store concept works in a variety of different retail spaces. "What's interesting about our array of stores, it gives us a chance on how best to go forward".