Noto Botanics finds a handsome home in east L.A.
Words by ELIZABETH VARNELL
“This is a literal manifestation of a café I found in Portugal last year,” says makeup artist and Noto Botanics founder Gloria Noto, of her new light-filled beauty boutique in Highland Park. The space once served as a Chevrolet showroom in the 1930s, and its glass facade evokes the look and feel of the overseas gathering spot Noto dreamed of re-creating for her gender-fluid beauty brand, which she launched online in 2015.
The spare interiors are awash in natural tones and a mossy green hue that Noto spotted on another trip (this time to the Pacific Northwest’s Orcus Island) and later uncovered in the painted plaster around the shop’s original arched windows. She still revels in the serendipity. To her, precise shades matter deeply.
Color theory in art school initially prompted Noto to study makeup application, and the Detroit native’s move west led to a corporate gig with Australian beauty brand Napoleon Perdis before she struck out on her own. Drawn to natural remedies and potions, many of which she blends at home (in addition to brewing her own kombucha), Noto turned to beet juice to stain actress Shailene Woodley’s lips on endless press junkets and soon set to work developing a mindful, gender-fluid line.
“I’ve been working with skin and different skin tones for my entire adult career. A decade in, I felt there was a giant gap within inclusive natural cosmetics”
Four years after she launched her eponymous brand with its trademark glass bottles and muted design aesthetic, her core multiuse Basil Yarrow mist (balanced by toning witch hazel), grapeseed-fortified Deep serum, hyaluronic acid-rich Moisture Riser cream, alpha hydroxy acid-boosted Resurface scrub and smoky Rooted oil (with its hair-nourishing argan base) are still hand-poured in L.A.’s Arts District and in Santa Barbara.
“I’ve formulated every product based on a personal need,” says Noto, who whittled down her routine to achieve sustainability. She’s committed to limiting new launches to two products per year — a body wash, meant for everything from hair to skin, is coming this spring — and often relies solely on her Ono Ono multiuse stain pot for cheek, eye and lip color.
Her minimalist philosophy is ever present in the Highland Park shop, designed in collaboration with architect Tyler Thomas and Gabbi Sun of L.A.’s Venn Studio. Thomas found himself particularly drawn to the multiuse aspects of Noto Botanics. “We wanted the store to feel like more of a conceptual gallery or lounge that happened to sell beauty products,” he explains. “The concept is very much about questioning and exploring supposed dichotomies of masculine-feminine, hard-soft, art-retail, function-beauty, organic-synthetic, etc.”
Monthly residencies, pop-ups and workshops by Noto’s like-minded friends (including jewelry designer Sarah Shikama, artist Laura Chautin and The Moon Lists author Leigh Patterson) are in the works. “I wanted to get off the computer and connect with the community on a physical level,” Noto says. “The design feels like what’s in my head came to life in a beautiful, clean way.”
5005 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park.
Jan. 15, 2020
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