At Rhode’s First-Ever Pop-Up, Demand Exceeds Supply


They’re calling it a “heat dome” — the atmospheric system currently convection-cooking more than half of the contiguous US — but on the first Monday of summer, the dome in New York City opened to let in a cool breeze. It seemed to only last for the day, timed perfectly for the opening of Hailey Bieber’s first-ever pop-up for her beauty label Rhode.

A retail storefront in SoHo had been transformed to invoke both a hall of mirrors and the inside of a compact for Rhode’s “Pocket-Sized” pop-up. It was named for the line’s new Pocket Blush, a lip-to-cheek product about the size of a chicken nugget, but it was an apt name for the space, which at full capacity could comfortably contain maybe eight employees and 20 shoppers at a time. About a thousand Bieber fans showed up before the doors even opened.

Since it was established in 2022, Rhode has managed to be one of the few runaway successes of the celebrity beauty boom. Bieber coyly told Forbes, six months after launching, that the company was on track to hit north of $10 million in its first year of sales. Sources close to The Business of Beauty have estimated closer to $100 million in sales for 2024, thanks to massive waitlists for sold-out products like its Peptide Glazing Fluid and Barrier Restore Cream and savvy marketing. Rhode continues to sell exclusively direct-to-consumer, but may enter wholesale as soon as 2025.

Demand continues to far outstrip supply. By the time the pop-up opened, two of its six blush shades, Piggy, a baby pink hue, and Sleepy Girl, a soft mauve, had sold out online; they were only made available for purchase on June 20.

When I arrived shortly after the pop-up opened its doors to the public at 11 AM, the ax had come down. “They just told us they’re not letting anybody else in,” said Dyana, a harried skincare girlie of 23. The line formed an ouroboros around a city block, and it seemed everybody who would be shopping that day had already shown up.

The crowd was overwhelmingly young, female and under 30. All were wearing little shirts and big pants, or big shirts and big pants, or merely mid-thigh athletic onesies; all wore at least concealer and mascara; many accessorised with significant others, who waited gamely by their side. A pair of friends, who were numbers 45 and 46 in line respectively, showed up around 6 AM, and were admitted at about 11:45 AM.

“It wasn’t so bad,” Brittany, 23, told me. “I had to take a Zoom call.”

“I called out sick from work!” her friend, name withheld, added.

Both were fans of Bieber and of Rhode, and had purchased her products online before. But the pop-up provided the unprecedented opportunity to swatch the blush shades before they buy them, instead of merely purchasing them and hoping for the best. For its skincare range, this hasn’t been much of a problem, but as the brand has begun minting colour cosmetics — first with tinted versions of its best-selling lip “treatment,” and now with a stick blush — it’ll have to find a way to introduce Rhode into more physical spaces.

Bieber herself appeared at the pop-up on Sunday, when it opened to press and influencers. She was not in attendance on day one, but her spectre was everywhere; her face, on video ads inside the space; her name, on a Cosmic Bliss ice cream truck parked outside; her look, from her tight bun to her glazed cheeks, endlessly replicated throughout the crowd of fans. Most attendees were excited to try the Pocket Blush and take home a viral Lip Case, an iPhone case molded to carry Rhode’s Lip Treatment. But the real object of their desire was more elusive. They were hoping to see Hailey, but would settle for her vanity.

Mia, who was 23, trimmed in gold, and somewhere between number 150 and 200, fantasised about her blush encounter. “I’m really into the Sleepy Girl vibe,” she said, referring to the juicy mauve shade. “But I really want to try Sprinkle.” (Much like Glossier’s city-specific merch, the pink shade is exclusive to the pop-up.)

A girl in a taut braid chimed in, almost involuntarily: “Hailey mixes them too!”

After noon, the ice cream truck sold out. Online, the blush set did, too. 34 minutes after the pop-up officially opened at 11 AM, the brand tweeted the line closure, citing that they had reached capacity. But the store will be back: it’s open until July 3rd, and the forecast is New York is only getting hotter.

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