Digital native brand Rouje is taking on the physical world.

Cofounder Jeanne Damas has long dreamed of opening up stores for the label in New York and London, but had to put plans on hold during the pandemic.

Now, she is pressing the gas pedal.

“We haven’t gone as fast as we would have liked because of COVID-19,” said Damas at an event in Paris to celebrate the launch of her skin care line under beauty brand Les Filles en Rouje.

“We’ve been looking for two years, but it takes time to find a great flagship.”

Rouje’s London store, in Mayfair, will open in April — a roughly 1,000-square-foot outpost that will remain open for a year while work is being done on a larger, permanent location in the city. Then at the beginning of May, a 3,000-square-foot store is set for Broome Street in SoHo, New York City.

“Even before the pandemic, New York was my obsession, because I have a lot of customers there already and people are always saying, ‘you absolutely have to open in New York,’” she said. “We’ve found a really beautiful boutique in SoHo, on Broome Street, one of the boutiques with the white colonnades, and it’s opening at the beginning of May.”

“I see Rouje as a lifestyle brand in the long term, so the development of the retail presence is very important to me, so that the clients can touch and try the clothes, to make Rouje an encounter,” said Damas.

The stores, as well as a second outpost in Paris, in the tony 16th arrondissement set to open in the summer, will be the debut for a new concept for the brand. “I wanted to do something different, with carpets, leopard prints, flowers, stone,” said Damas. “The Paris boutique we did four years ago with Marie-France Cohen, and the inspiration was more Georgia O’Keeffe, it was quite minimal, here I wanted something warmer, with wood and lots of different materials,” she said.

From the outset, Rouje has had a strong international following, Damas said. “Right from the beginning, 70 percent of sales were export. And that’s quite unique for a young French brand, because in general French brands establish themselves at home then look at export. I’ve done the opposite.”

“Even before I launched the brand, I was modeling for designers, when I was young, before Instagram even existed. I already had my community, and it was a global community.”

Les Filles en Rouje skin care. Courtesy of Les Filles en Rouje

Damas’ foray into beauty with Les Filles en Rouje is accelerating just as fast. The skin care line, launched a month ago with a simple three-step routine of cleanser, cream and oil, will be followed by two hair care products in a month’s time, she said.

Overall, the brand continues to grow.

“Three years ago, there were just 20 of us. Now we have 120 employees. We took on investors to help us develop the retail and beauty side of things, and that’s really accelerated the process,” she said. “The brand is doing well, it’s growing fast, we’re tripling our sales each year, and with the stores, it’s going to be even bigger, just mathematically.”

With contributions from Hikmat Mohammed

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