Retail notes from Tallinn: [Store Profile] Pillerkaar

During my weekend in Helsinki I also visited Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. From Helsinki, Tallinn is just 2-3 hours by ferry and there are hourly connections so it is the perfect day trip. It was my first visit to Estonia and after walking around the beautiful Old Town for a bit, I started on my must-visit list of local retailers, including a Stockmann outlet, a couple of supermarket chains and, most importantly, a store specialising in organic beauty: Pillerkaar!

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For such a small country, Estonia has a surprising number of domestic organic beauty brands. Many of these are comparatively new: few Estonian organic brands are older than 20 years and most companies were founded within the last five years or so.

With the exception of big companies like Joik, most of these organic brands are not available outside of Estonia. And even within their home market, distribution can be limited indeed. So, when I read that Pillerkaar is famous for selling one of the largest selections of domestic beauty brands in Tallinn, I simply had to visit the store. And it was SO worthwhile!

Pillerkaar is located in Solaris shopping center which is an easy walking distance from the Old Town. The store was opened in February 2015 and they sell around 40 local and regional beauty brands. In 2014 I wrote an article about Estonian organic beauty so I knew many brands by name, like Ingli Pai, Sohvy, Moshi, Jovely, Ontic Minerals or Lumi. Nurme and Sosar I had seen in Ruohonjuuri store in Helsinki, but brands like Loodus e Pärl, Gaia Cosmetics, Tilk or Turbliss I had never even heard of. Which made the visit to Pillerkaar even more interesting!

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The big brands include Joik – which has its own dedicated shelf, see above –  and Vestige Verdant, a beauty label founded in 2013. Although Vestige Verdant’s line-up includes just three products, its black peat mask  has become very popular amongst German organic beauty fans. Pillerkaar’s store manager told me that Vestige Verdant is one of her bestsellers, too; when the store has a sale, customers are queuing up to buy VV’s famous face mask and eye serum.

In fact, I noticed quite a few peat-based beauty brands in Pillerkaar. Young brand Turbliss, for example, offers a range of bio-active peat face masks for different skin types; Turbliss Klaar is a sub-range for problem skin and Turbliss 24K Gold Line is a premium anti-ageing range. I bought the Skin Firming & Toning Mask which is based on peat, rose water and melissa water.

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Sosar is another recently founded beauty brand which specialises in peat products. Sosar’s portfolio include the 4-sku Sacred Forest Peat range, the 3-sku Misty Sea Mud line, four Honey lip balms and a honey-based bar soap as well as a men’s range. Beautiful packaging! (see picture above)

I had read about Lumi Nordic, a premium face care brand with ultra-stylish packaging (pic below!). Lumi’s extensive skin and body care portfolio is divided into the Lumi anti-ageing range and professional range Lumi Derm which is primarily sold in pharmacies and salons.

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Ditto for Moshi (established in 2010) with its modern black-and-white packaging -I had only seen it online so it was interesting to finally try out the products. The distinctive packaging really look striking on the shelf. Mineral makeup brand Ontic Minerals, founded in 2013, is another company that I only knew by name. You can see the brand’s product display in the picture below; they offer an impressive range of powder eyeshadows.

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Nurme is another fairly young beauty brand. The line-up offers six face oils (jojoba, argan, carrot, macadamia etc.), a cleansing soaps and several toners;  various body care (scrubs, oils, butters and bar soaps), hair care (several liquid shampoos and, interestingly, a range of shampoo bars!), a Kids range of shea butters, body oils and plant soaps, Men’s products which include a special men’s bar soap and an after-shave serum based on apricot and jojoba oil; there are also bath milks, bath truffles, body scrubs and other scented bath and shower products and some accessories. Nice products and priced very reasonably.

I was also struck by the affordable products of Gaia Cosmetics: straightforward ingredients and simple packaging. The range offers different face oils (camellia, argan, rosehip, almond etc.), several hydrosols (rose, rosemary and orange blossom – I bought the orange blossom variant), a clay powder mask, a range of essential oils and a mineral makeup range.

Ingli Pai is one of the oldest domestic organic beauty brands; it was founded around 15 years ago. Products are packaged apothecary-style (brown glass bottles and jars, simple labels) and the portfolio includes the Roosisari range of face oil, face cream and toner; skin care lotions, creams and gel creams for different skin types ( I bought a lavender-scented cream based on olive oil and jojoba oil!), a hair care range, a body care range and a product line for babies. Several Ingli Pai products are available in large and small product sizes which is something that I noticed in other Pillerkaar brands.

In contrast, Tilk! is a young and trendy skin care brand – check out the colourful packaging! I couldn’t find out when exactly Tilk! was launched but I’m willing to bet it was within the last 18 months or so. Anyway, Tilk!’s portfolio comprises 9 products – five face creams for different skin types (men’s, normal, sensitive, oily and combination), a night cream, two hand creams and a lip balm. The packaging really stands out on the shelf! The face creams are priced at around 20 Euro, the hand creams cost 10 Euro.

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Jovely Naturals (see picture below) specialises in face and body care oils – simply oil blends of up different plant oils plus several pure oils, lavender and rose hydrosols, several shea butters blends, three solid hand creams which are based on shea butter, beeeswax and jojoba oil (I aquired the Citrus hand cream) and a range of bar soaps.

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Sohvy’s portfolio (picture above) includes several ranges of brightly packaged skin and body care creams. Products are priced at around 8 Euro for most of the face creams and 10 Euro for the body care products – the ingredients looked really good but unfortunately the pack sizes were a bit too large (I was travelling by plane – hand luggage only!)

A brand I had never even heard about was Loodus e Pärl; skin and body care products including bar soaps, face care oil blends, sugar-based body scrubs, body butters and so on. Rather unsophisticated packaging (read: bland/boring) but some interesting products – like the  Näomask powder face mask range which offers three variants: Vetika contains pink clay, seaweed and milk powder, Sookoladi is based on rhassoul, cocoa powder, oat meal and milk powder and Rohelise Tee contains green clay, powdered green tea and milk powder. Since I love seaweed as a skin care ingredient I decided to buy the Vetika mask.

I wish I could have spent more time at the store but unfortunately I had to catch the early evening ferry back to Helsinki. I really liked Pillerkaar: a fabulous selection of domestic organic beauty brands and a friendly and knowledgeable store manager. If you’re interested in Estonian organic cosmetics and find yourself in or near Tallinn, a visit is highly recommended.

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Filed under Industry News, Retail, Store Profiles, Travel

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