Lemon Laine is a space we’d love to live in. The doors open to a colorful room with custom wallpaper in feminine designs, shelves stocked with hand-picked clean beauty products and gals donning peach denim jackets eager to welcome you inside. At the back of the space, you are invited to take a seat at the oil bar, where specialists take time to understand your skin goals and beauty and wellness routine to create a facial oil customized just for you. As you learn the benefits of marshmallow root and why specific jojoba oil infusions and essential oils are right for you, you can sip complimentary beverages and soak in your surroundings. Then, you can shop. Well-stocked shelves invite you to explore thoughtfully chosen products for your face, hair and body.
Lemon Laine is a natural beauty and wellness shop with two locations. Lemon Laine opened in Nashville, TN a year-and-a-half ago and expanded to Houston, TX, earlier this month with a new 1,000-square-foot space. Both shops offer welcoming environments that invite you to explore clean products in skincare, makeup and wellness. “It doesn’t inspire me to simply have products on a shelf. For Lemon Laine, I wanted to provide customer service on a deeper level and really get to know our customer. The oil bar is at the heart and soul of that want,” owner Laura Lemon explains. The hands-on experience allows you to walk away with a deep understanding of your skincare needs — and an oil with ingredients hand-picked just for you. Laura pushes the boundaries of retail by offering the perfect in-store shopping experience coupled with hands-on education, and her team delivers on the promise of high-level customer service.
“We are empowering the customer to make the decisions,” Laura tells us. And her modern beauty boutique is not intimidating, even to a natural beauty newbie. “First and foremost, we want to be comfortable and approachable. Shopping for beauty can be overwhelming,” Laura acknowledges. She arranges the products by category, not by brand as many beauty retailers do. On shelves (labeled: cleanse, treat, hydrate, hair and body), you will find products hand-picked by Laura, all made of ingredients that are pre-approved by her, as well.
“I try everything, which my skin sometimes hates,” she says with a laugh. “It is an art and a science. To know if a product is clean, you need a chemistry background.” And although Laura does not have a chemistry background, she holds years of experience in the industry and partners with a natural chemist to decode products’ ingredient lists. “She helps me dig in deeper and make sure ingredients are what they say they are,” Laura says of the chemist, a longtime friend.
Laura got her start in the beauty industry making lip balm for her friends in middle school, a task that prepped her for her later position as an associate buyer at Walmart.com. “Walmart was ahead of the natural beauty industry,” Laura says, surprising us all. “The first time I heard the word ‘sustainability’ was at Walmart.” It was during her tenure at the big box retailer that she dove head-first into clean beauty and wellness, as the industry was taking off.
In picking products, Laura talks to brand founders to learn their intention behind entering the industry. Because as the natural beauty space grows, so too does the market. “It is a growing industry, and a lot of brands are not in it for the right reasons. I want to know why they enter the industry.”
Equally as important as the why is the question of whether or not the product works. “Natural gets a bad rep from the hemp oil and patchouli days, but it is exciting to see the direction the industry is going. Your body knows what to do with a natural, botanical substance — more than a chemical-based product,” Laura says.
Brands and products Laura can’t help but gush about include: OSEA, a family-run business based in Malibu that is ahead of the game in formulating with C minerals; NUORI Supreme-C Serum, which is formulated for freshness (this is rare) in Copenhagen; Goop G. Night Bath Soak, which feature unique blends of herbs, botanicals and adaptogens; a Nashville-made CBD oil, which is a top seller; and RMS digestive enzymes, because although probiotics are all the buzz, digestive enzymes are magic (at least according to Laura).
Years of knowledge gathered from working within the industry, plus her holistic nutrition coach credentials, make Laura the perfect teacher. “Most women know how to use a moisturizer but don’t know why they need an adaptogen, or which probiotic to buy.” Indeed, I walked out understanding far more about these products than imaginable.
But Laura is not afraid to call in the experts. Through weekly events, Laura invites authorities in the industry to explore topics that range from gut health and women’s hormones to makeup application and skincare tips. “It is something I didn’t really plan for,” Laura says of the events. “People were curious and had questions. Now, 20 to 40 people attend the events every week. We try to make them free or of minimal charge because it is about sharing information.” Past events include Adaptogens for Stress & Energy with Wylde One, Makeup Masterclass: Natural & Glowing with Alicia Marie Campbell & Kosås; Fertility 101 with Baby+Co., and Matcha 101 with Tiffany of Whitespace + Wellness.
“The Nashville market was more ready than I thought,” Laura says of opening the Nashville store in 2017. “Many people see and interact with these brands on Instagram but have no way of trying them in their own town.” The Nashville location is off Eastland Avenue, sandwiched between Five Daughters Bakery and Climb Nashville East. Laura opened the space to return to retail, where she can interact with the customers one-on-one. “East Nashville has a tight-knit community of small business owners. This was the right space, at the right time, and I was so supported by the people in this town,” Laura tells us. She saw immediate success and quickly gained a loyal clientele.
Laura filled a void in Nashville and is doing the same in Houston. “The people and the vibes of the city really blew me away,” Laura says of the Texas city. “There is a lot more than meets the eye.”
The new store is located in Heights Mercantile, where they are neighbors to Paloma Nails, Lululemon, Warby Parker, Local Foods and more. The two shops are nearly identical, although the Houston store has more space, which allows room to bring new products to the shoppers, and a larger portion of the inventory in Houston is dedicated to makeup. “I forget how much Southern women love makeup,” Laura says, revealing her Oklahoma roots and years of California living.
Both stores are colorful, welcoming and home to informed minds willing to educate and introduce you to natural beauty.
“I want someone to come into our space and say, ‘This is the best beauty experience I have had. And it’s natural? Even better.'”
Visit Lemon Laine Nashville at 1900 Eastland Ave #102, Nashville, TN 37206. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Find Lemon Laine Houston at 714 Yale St Suite 1K, Houston, TX 77007. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Thank you to Caroline Sharpnack for sharing today’s beautiful photos of the Nashville and Houston stores!
Find more great Southern retailers in our archives. Click HERE.