Confession: I had no idea that Sephora was part of LVMH until I interviewed. Most of that is strategic: LVMH wants to make sure that its brands feel distinct and authentic, but this internship definitely exposed me to the broader portfolio in some very fun ways.

At Benefit’s San Francisco offices, we got a healthy dose of the quirky, fun brand’s personality. The reception area alone is a swift transport to all that is pink and sassy. Then we learned about the history of the brand, why its packaging and product names are so witty and how it has grown to become one of the largest color brands within Sephora. Someone should do a case study on branding at Benefit!

Then of course, we got treated to amazing brow waxing at their new Brow Bar and boutique on Sutter St. It’s interesting to observe beauty retail in a small, single brand format after having been exposed to it all summer long on such a multi-brand scale that is Sephora! The first thing I noticed is just the difference in complexity. At Sephora you have hundreds of people perusing, sampling, asking questions, etc. at the same time, and it’s a lot to manage. For starters, in an open sell environment, you have to make sure product doesn’t walk out the door if it’s not paid for! In a smaller boutique, all of that is scaled down and is much more intimate, with each incoming client greeted personally. I found that I actually enjoy the craziness of a large format store, but was very impressed by the level of service the Benefit gals gave each of the clients!