Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty made its debut at 617 E Pike just in time for Pride 2013. As we reach Pride 2015, Jennifer Dietrich and her burlesque and drag queen-inspired cosmetics company are saying goodbye to Capitol Hill — and the “Capitol Hill Problem.”
“The elephant in the room was what we called the ‘Capitol Hill Problem,'” an update to the Dr. Jen’s Facebook page announcing the shop’s planned June 27th closure reads. “All of us on the Hill know what I mean-growing crime against LGBTQ folks, out of control rent increases, no parking from all the construction and the endless sea of douchebaggery filling our streets after dark.”
“Do we stay and say goodbye to the ‘Sparkle People’ and start marketing to the new Capitol Hill norm? Or, do we move to another neighborhood and try to keep our clientele?,” the Facebook post ponders.
According to the announcement, Dietrich plans to close the Capitol Hill shop and focus the company’s efforts online with work continuing in Los Angeles and New Mexico where she will move manufacturing of the Atomic Cosmetics line. Washington Secretary of State documents show the Xerion Skin Science corporation behind the company is owned by Dietrich and her husband Shawn Dietrich.
On her way out of town, Dietrich managed to squeeze in plenty of swipes at the neighborhood and even the city’s new $15/hour minimum wage law.
“For slightly more than I would have to pay unskilled labor in Seattle, I can hire scientists with a Master’s degree in Chemistry; or even fresh PhDs,” Dietrich says of her move back to New Mexico.
The full announcement is below.
The decision to leave Capitol Hill follows last fall’s attempts to “save Atomic Cosmetics” with a fundraising drive. “We recently have hit a financial brick wall – a business loan, that we were expecting to secure, has fallen through,” the company’s call for help said at the time. “With these funds, we were going to be able to keep up with our growing demand, as well as expand our operations at our Capitol Hill flagship store.” Benefits were held at drag and burlesque venues to also help boost the business. The financial blow came just as the company was planning to ramp up production.
Monday’s announcement brings the effort to keep the business on Capitol Hill to a close.
“I have striven to make Dr. Jen’s a safe space in the midst of all of this, but from a business perspective, the writing is on the wall,” Dietrich wrote.
Here is the full announcement:
Hello Atomic family! Dr. Jen here. I have a very important piece of news to share with all of you. But before I do, I’d like to tell you a little story:
This past week, we closed the shop and met up in sunny New Mexico to discuss the next year in the life of Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty. Les, Cherry and I hunkered down over some green chiles and started plotting away. We discussed ways in which we could build the two brands (Xerion Skin Science and Atomic Cosmetics), while maintaining strong ties with our community.
The elephant in the room was what we called the ‘Capitol Hill Problem’. All of us on the Hill know what I mean-growing crime against LGBTQ folks, out of control rent increases, no parking from all the construction and the endless sea of douchebaggery filling our streets after dark. I have striven to make Dr. Jen’s a safe space in the midst of all of this, but from a business perspective, the writing is on the wall. The so-called “weird kids” and Sparkle People that come to my shop are being displaced from the Hill. While I am confident in my ability to adapt my business model to accommodate the incoming tech horde, I question whether or not I’d want to. That was the crux of the discussion – Do we stay and say goodbye to the ‘Sparkle People’ and start marketing to the new Capitol Hill norm? Or, do we move to another neighborhood and try to keep our clientele? Then came the endless discussions of where we could move that would give Seattle and its performer community the kind of access that the Hill provided. Ultimately, we just couldn’t figure it out.
Then suddenly, in the middle of an impassioned speech about the importance of maintaining ties to the community, it hit me. Here we were trying so hard to build a safe space for Seattle’s performer community, and we were completely ignoring the fact that our ‘community’ wasn’t limited to just Seattle anymore. My little company has reached performers all over the country, and even into other parts of the world. I hear all the time from performers that they wish we could come to their city – which I would love to be able to do. Until now, I could only travel infrequently, as my presence was required at the shop every day. Once we realized that our audience was nationwide, we were faced with an even bigger dilemma: do we focus our resources on bringing my message and my healthy product to more locations across the country, or do we focus our resources on the retail location on Capitol Hill? Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that being able to have the freedom to travel and bring the Atomic experience to the rest of the country was going to be a more effective use of our resources.
Therefore, as of June 27, 2015, Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty will close its doors for good. But, have no fear! All of our awesome products that you love will still be available at www.ColorsThatGoBoom.com – In addition, we will now be able to take our show in the road! So look for Dr. Jen to be blending foundations in your town soon! We will also have makeup and wig styling classes hitting the road, and of course, we’ll be vending at our usual places like Burlycon, Viva, Dragcon, etc.
In order to better reach performers of all stripes, I’ll be sending Les and Cherry to Los Angeles, where Atomic Cosmetics will be based. Once there, they will explore relationships with makeup suppliers, as well as makeup artists in film, tv, etc. We plan to turn Atomic Cosmetics into THE option for performers who want non-toxic makeup. We believe LA is an excellent base for us to launch from, and we couldn’t be more excited!
I will be moving manufacturing and Xerion Skin Science to a new facility in New Mexico. It’s a hard business decision to make, but given Seattle’s implementation of a $15 minimum wage, it is far better for me to move manufacturing out of the city. For slightly more than I would have to pay unskilled labor in Seattle, I can hire scientists with a Master’s degree in Chemistry; or even fresh PhDs. This will enable us to expand production while reducing the six month training period required to get unskilled labor fully trained. Additionally, this will afford me the opportunity to do more on the research end of things. (Maybe we can all get that gel eyeliner we’ve been waiting for, eh?) In addition, I plan to expand manufacturing into making my own extracts instead of spending countless hours to source ingredients that meet my standard. I am really looking forward to creating some kick ass new skincare products, as well as expanding our wholesale and private label offerings.
We will miss our Seattle family SO HARD. Please stop by during this next month to say goodbye and wish us luck on our new adventure. We love all of you.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us here, Seattle!