When I’m travelling I always spend a lot of time checking out the different retail chains and perfumeries and, incidentally, spending a lot of money on interesting looking beauty products. All in the name of journalistic research, of course….!
For Riga I had a very long list of retailers that I wanted to visit, including outlets of Drogas, Kristiana, Stockmann and Douglas (the big chains in Latvia). However, the city also has some wonderful independent beauty stores…..and here are three of my favourites!
Studio Pienene – located on Kungu iela 7/9 in the old town of Riga. Pienene (the name means “dandelion” in Latvian) specializes in Latvian products – hand-made, locally produced; they carry some 200 small labels and manufactories. Besides cosmetics they also have handicrafts, candles, toys, accessories, bags, paper products, tableware, textiles, clothes, household products, interior decoration….it’s a beautiful store that has a very nice café attached to it. A visit is highly recommended. The beauty brands available at Pienene include Madara, Kivvi Cosmetics, Anna Liepa, Bio2You, Organic Style, Gusto and Livonia Cosmetics.
Incidentally, Pienene also sells some of the products of glass upcycling company Buteljons. I visited the Buteljons store in Miera iela 10; they upcycle old glass bottles (wine, beer, spirits bottles) to create glasses, vases, plates, candle-holders and other amazing things. Check them out! While you’re in the neighbourhood, Dad Café is a good place to relax with an espresso – it is across the street from Buteljons.
Lavandas: this store is located on Elizabetes 25 in the midst of Art Nouveau splendor. Lavandas (Latvian for “lavender”) has four outlets in Latvia, two of these are in Riga. The Elizabetes store carries a very wide range of international organics (many of these from Germany, needless to say!) but they also have pretty much the entire range of Dr. Organic from the UK and, of course, they also retail Baltic brands, including Graenn, Uoga Uoaga, Livonia Cosmetics and Madara.
Bioteka is a Latvian chain of organic supermarkets which was established in 2006/2007. With ten outlets Bioteka is the biggest organic store chain in Latvia; they also have four stores in Lithuania. The Bioteka store on Šķūņu ielā 12/14 in the old town was one of the first Biotekas and it is the outlet with the biggest selection of organic beauty brands. These include French niche brand Florame, John Masters Organics, Dr. Bronner’s and Florascent, as well as all the usual German suspects (Dr. Hauschka, Weleda, Börlind, Sante, Farfalla, Logona etc.).