Lily Garfield, operator of 12 freestanding, upscale beauty stores, is the envy of many small retailers. Here, Lily discusses how she landed the enviable deal of creating a beauty shop in Target and what it will mean for her brand when it realizes critical mass.

How did the partnership begin? Just about a year ago I got a phone call saying [Target] wanted to get together to curate a brand. I was thinking, “How am I going to get my vendors into Target?” But after I met with them, I learned I would be designing product under the Cos Bar brand. I had thought about doing a private label during my career but never did because I’m more a retailer than a manufacturer.

How did you transition into the role? It was a tremendous learning, the whole experience. Choosing colors, products, packaging, textures and figuring out what the consumer wants, what can sell fast, what’s the impulse purchase rather than what would be the repeat purchase. I focused on items around the cash register, items women and men consistently buy, such as hand cream, tweezers, emery boards. Not perfume. Not color cosmetics. More for the masses.

Will the partnership accelerate Cos Bar’s profile and business? Oh 100%. One of the things we did was revamp our whole website the first week of February. I mean there are 1,800 Targets and there are a lot of people who know all about them, like a cult, which I was totally unaware of, and they are watching to see the launch, and they’ll all ask, “What’s Cos Bar?”

How are your vendors reacting? All of my luxury vendors have a smile on their face because all of the Target consumers will see their brands on the new site. It’s interesting how the luxury cosmetics industry is very positive about it. One even suggested that I allow customers to be able to return Cos Bar for Target items to Cos Bar stores just as a sign of elite customer service. I thought it was a great idea, but that’s not going to happen.

As a prestige beauty retailer, what are your thoughts on combining prestige brands with mass brands? Let’s put it this way, in clothing you can buy a $2,000 blazer and a Target T-shirt, combining luxury with mass. The same can be held true with mass beauty and luxury beauty. It took me a while to put my arms around it.

Sound advice: Leonard Lauder got to me in the ’80s—he has a home in Aspen, where my first store opened. He said my boutique was the sign of the future and that he anticipated seeing more of my shops in strategic locations, not in cities, but in suburbs. So, I never go within a two-mile radius of a Neiman Marcus. I look for the suburbs where there’s a certain socio-economic demographic.