The shopping blog companion to, the insider's guide to Twin Cities shopping.


Allison Kaplan

Savvy Shopper Column

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March 25, 2008

Surprises at StormSister

Alishops1 I stopped by StormSister Spatique on the west side of St. Paul this afternoon and next thing you know, my hair smelled like roses and I was exfoliating my smackers with a sugary new lip scrub owner Becky Sturm is in the process of testing. You just don't get this kind of attention and enthusiasm at a chain store. Sturm was excitedly unpacking boxes of new items, like hair and body powder from a line she just introduced: Principessa. Yes, powder intended for the hair - to freshen the roots between shampooings. Sturm says it works like a charm, and I believe her!

March 14, 2008

Horst's new line - finally

Horst Rechelbacher's much-talked about Intelligent Nutrients line of edible, organic hair and body products will finally be released in full this May. He partnered with Regis Corp., which seems to have provided just the kick in the pants the creative genius needed. Gordon Nelson, executive vp of Regis told me yesterday that the full collection of products will be introduced in May at a New York event. New York? But Horst is here, as is his cool IN store and cafe, and Regis is based in Minneapolis as well. "We'll have a party in Minneapolis, too," Nelson assured me, "but we're launching in New York." I did at least get a whiff of the shampoo - right off of Nelson's head. Smelled divine - good enough to drink.

March 13, 2008

Nick Arrojo at MOA

Nickarrojo The suit with an untucked dress shirt, the hugs and the harsh advice delivered with such sincerity it comes across as nice is not just an act for TV. Nick Arrojo of TLC's "What Not to Wear" lived up to his reputation as the ideal makeover hairstylist when he appeared Thursday at the new PureBeauty boutique/salon at Mall of America. I lost count of how many fans told me they've never seen him give a bad haircut on the show. Arrojo - who looked cute with close cut curls and a goatee - shrugged off the compliment but admitted, "It's good for business."
He was supposed to stand at the front of the store - signing autographs, posing for pictures and offering quick tips, but Arrojo had other plans: He set up at one of the stylist stations in the back of the shop and spent several minutes with each woman who waited on line just to get his advice. He even whipped out his scissors to cut some bangs. It's no wonder people love him: Arrojo's criticism (bad bangs, no bangs, washed out color, lack of layers) comes across as constructive every time. After more than an hour at his side, watching him size up hairstyles in an instant and dispense advice, I asked Arrojo if a pattern of bad hair was emerging. The good news is, Minnesota isn't the only place where some women take blond too far or let their hair grow too long. "The problems are the same everywhere," he said. Read more about bad hair and Arrojo's suggestions for how to fix it in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday, March 19.

March 11, 2008

Picked apart at PureBeauty

PurebeautyI got a sneak peek of the Twin Cities' first PureBeauty shop and mini-salon, which opens Thursday at Mall of America (first floor, just outside Nordstrom). The small chain was recently purchased by Regis, which plans to turn all of its Trade Secret salon/stores into PureBeauty. In an increasingly crowded beauty market - especially at MOA - you've got to have a gimmick and PureBeauty touts its Beauty Metrix computer system. If you've got 20 minutes, a trained associate will analyze your skin and hair and make product recommendations. Warning: seeing your skin and hair follicles magnified 150 times does not make for a pretty picture. My analysis confirmed that my skin is dry, I've got fine lines around the eyes and my hair is healthy (thank goodness I rocked at least one section of the exam). The point is to zero in on the right products, and PureBeauty does offer an impressive selection, from GHD styling tools and Pureology haircare to Dermalogica skin care and Jane Iredale cosmetics.
Stop by Thursday, March 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. - "What Not to Wear" hairstylist Nick Arrojo will give 30 second hair consultations (wow- that's half a minute!) and sign bottles of his Arrojo product line. PureBeauty is the first place to buy it outside of his New York salon.

October 23, 2007

Adios, eq-life

When I broke the news to my editor yesterday that eq-life is closing its last remaining store on Grand Avenue, she replied: “We already knew that, right?” In our hearts, I told her. The announcement of the planned November closing was made official only this week, but the writing has been on those sparsely merchandised walls for some time. The concept of blending health and technology in a setting that appeals to women was intriguing, but always somewhat confusing to the average shopper. Ipods, feel good books, organic vitamins, lotion and lattes? What is this place – a giant stereotype? Not only was the message a bit vague and condescending, there was no real reason to visit. The atmosphere felt institutional. And everything sold at eq-life could be purchased elsewhere. The company’s future seems to be shops within hospitals, which probably makes more sense. As for the gaping hole the store leaves at the primo corner of Victoria and Grand, my money is on Anthropologie…and another big fight from the chain-hating neighbors.

September 04, 2007

Bummed by Cos Bar

Cos Bar is set to open Friday (Sept. 7) at 50th & France. Last week, I found myself shopping the one in Vail, Colorado (my husband wondered if that meant we could write off our family vacation). The mini-chain, which got its start in Colorado resort towns Vail and Aspen, is supposed to be a sort of luxury Sephora where sales associates don't work for any one brand, so you can feel more confident they will show you the product that works best for you. I like the idea, but I wasn't especially impressed by the Vail Cos Bar. It felt cramped and not as posh as I would have expected. Oh sure, the brands were high-end - Laura Mercier, La Mer, and so on - but nothing you couldn't find elsewhere in town. Frankly, I think Cherie Boutique Francais in Wayzata delivers a much more authentic luxury beauty shopping experience. But, I say this without having seen the Edina Cos Bar. I'll be there tomorrow - whether my husband likes it or not. Love to hear your impressions.

August 03, 2007

Eva and Jessica's hairstylist at MOA

Kenpavesatmoa_4I can't take everything I read in People magazine as gospel, right? So I say to celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves, you did Eva Longoria's hair for her wedding, right? (I'm a reporter - it's my job to confirm the facts.) And he says: "You should do your Googling, girl!" Seems Paves is quite comfortable living his life on the pages of gossip rags. He appeared at Mall of America Friday to hype hairdo hair extensions and was a bit miffed to find no more than 20 in the crowd at the start of his show. The mall blamed the bridge tragedy for low traffic - several morning tv and radio interviews were cancelled. Paves was originally supposed to appear on an outdoor stage set up for back-to-school fashion shows, but they moved him inside when no one showed up to at least attract shoppers. Seems only celeb-bingers such as myself know the name Ken Paves. Google, and all. The show did go on, and Paves made the best of it, switching the 'dos of his J.Lo dancers in mere seconds while gyrating his tiny hips and throwing hair extensions into the audience (that help build the crowd). The man does love his hair extensions. Look for my article on that - and find out what he said he'd do if Jessica Simpson ever broke up with him - in the St. Paul Pioneer Press next Sunday (Aug. 12).

May 16, 2007

Brow whiz

I probably should have scheduled an appointment with my brow specialist before mentioning her name on FM107 last weekend. Now women are requesting her number, and I can't help but sing her praises. Jessie May at H. Design (3034 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-825-2535) is a master. So now you know. Please, keep it on the down-low or she's apt to raise her reasonable prices.

April 30, 2007

SJP, my new BFF


I got my five minutes -- pushed it to 6 and 23 seconds, actually -- with Sarah Jessica Parker. And I must say, she was Lovely. First question: Who are you wearing? Her reply: "Who are you wearing? You look nice!" Triumph! I didn't take the time to tell her, but I'll tell you: A Zachary's Smile purple jersey dress cinched at the waist with silk in a green, white and purple print from Barney's Co-op in Chicago and my perfectly matched purple and green Faryl Robin stacked heels that are worth every blister they've caused. But enough about me. SJP struck me as really genuine - or an amazing actress (is there a difference?). She's quick -- played right along when I hit her with a word association game (read what she had to say about Elmo, Sanjaya, botox and more in the Pioneer Press). She's in love with her little boy -- said the toughest part of her job is being away from him. She's humble -- still seems amazed that 2,500 -- yes, 2,500 -- would crowd into Macy's to see her. Can you imagine? My question is: would any of them have bought her fragrance, Lovely, if not for the opportunity to meet her? I'll address that in my column on Friday. But just to recap, SJP liked my dress!!!!

April 17, 2007

SJP in the cities

She's coming! She's coming! Nearly two years after the launch of her hugely successful fragrance, Lovely, Ms. Sarah Jessica Parker is gracing the Twin Cities with a visit. She'll sign autographs for those who make a $125 purchase at Macy's Minneapolis from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, April 27.

Hate to brag about the VIP status that goes along with a job at the Pioneer Press, but I get a one-on-one with SJP...for a whopping five minutes. I refuse to ask about a "Sex and the City" reunion. So I started thinking, what do I want to know about the actress worshiped by so many? I already know that her son James Wilke refused to wear anything but PJs for a year. I know that she admires Narciso Rodriguez and loves New York. I know that she still frets about money, which is why she is such a tireless promoter of her products. It's enough to make me feel like I need to get a life.

Alas, I'll be there for my precious five. And I'll love every moment of it. What do you want to know about SJP? Send your questions to or post them here. I'll try to slip them in. Try not to be wordy -- can't waste a second.

April 05, 2007

BJ's favorite products

My goodness, but how women love beauty tips! New York makeup artist BJ Gillian was inundated with questions when he came on The Shopping Show on FM 107 last Saturday. And since then, I've been inundated with requests for his list of favorite products (applause for not taking notes while you were driving, ladies.). So here it is, straight from BJ:


March 27, 2007

Goof-proof make-up

As mentioned, I missed Monday's "Beauty Summit" for stylists and fashion types at the Walker Art Center. But I heard the highlight, aside from the frequent fire alarms (make-up is hot!), was Cover Girl make-up artist B.J. Gillian - a.k.a. "The Guru of Goof-Proof Make-Up," who has painted the faces of Jennifer Aniston, Teri Hatcher, Christie Brinkley and Janet Jackson, to name a few. So I promptly called -- he is indeed hilarious -- to book him on this Saturday's Shopping Show on FM107. BJ will bring us up to speed on spring beauty trends (so it's wrong that I've been wearing the same eyeshadow since 2002?), and, most importantly, steer us toward drug store deals as well as products that are truly worth the splurge. Tune in at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 30.

March 26, 2007

Thick skin on the beauty beat

While most Twin Cities stylists spent their Monday off at the first P & G sponsored "beauty summit" at the Walker (if your hairstylist is singing the praises of Pantene, you'll know why), I was at Root Salon in St. Paul orchestrating makeovers for the three "real women" (as opposed to models) who are posing for my spring fashion spread in the St. Paul Pioneer Press (see it on Sunday, April 15). It's amazing what a fresh cut and color can do for a girl's self image.

But let's talk about me.

As I was complimenting Root owner Jim Koktavy for his brilliant work on one of the girls, he said to me "You're next." And here I thought I was having a decent hair day. I had to dash, as I was scheduled to speak to a women's group. "Not until I get rid of that fuzz," Jim retorted. Fuzz? My hair was fuzzy? Five minutes under his hair dryer and round brush and my hair looked entirely sleeker, which was, frankly depressing. I can never get it to look like that, no matter how long I spend and what products I use. Jim's suggestion: one of his stylists does an amazing blow out for $20. He's the second person this month to tell me I should consider regular blowouts, which could last a week on my dry hair.

What am I, my grandmother? Come to think of it, maybe Gram had the right idea.

February 27, 2007

A Southdale makeover?

My recent Pioneer Press column about the sorry state of Southdale Center prompted Juut Salon/Spas CEO David Wagner to tell me that his company is in final negotiations to take over the vacant Louis XIII space at Southdale, with plans to open in August. Good move for Juut. It's a high profile space that will lend itself to a dynamic setting, and the mall could use a spa since Estee Lauder pulled out. No question this development will lead to many splendid afternoons: mani/pedi and lunch at P.F. Chang's. Now if only Southdale could figure out how to drive traffic into the mall.

February 24, 2007

Inside the makeup bag of a Hollywood pro

The quest for the best beauty products never ends. Following today's interview on The Shopping Show on FM107, listeners are dying to know what is in the cosmetics bag of Hollywood makeup artist Mary Flaa. So here's her list of favorite products. (Read more about her experiences making up celebrities in Sunday's Pioneer Press)

Moisturizer: Olay Definity Correcting Protective Lotion with spf 15
Concealer: Laura Mercier Secret Concealer
Foundation/Powder: Bare Minerals
Cheek color: Sue Devitt Silky Blush in Vanuatu
Brow: Anastasia brow kit at Sephora
Mascara: Cover Girl VolumeExact in black
Lip sheen: Sephora lip gloss in a tube
Eyeshadow: Vincent Longo eyeshadow trio in Harem
Eyeliner: Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in Sepia Ink (blended with powder shadow to soften)
Highlighter: Nars The Multiple highlighting stick in St. Barts (for cheek bones, under brows, bridge of nose and inner corner of eyes)
Lip color: Lorac lipstick under Sephora gloss


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