By Erin Lukas
Updated Oct 30, 2017 @ 11:45 am
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

There few duos more iconic than friends and business partners Jay Manuel and Iman. Together, the two are beauty and fashion industry veterans who've been at the top of their respective fields for over 20 years. So when Manuel began developing his namesake makeup line Jay Manuel Beauty, naturally the supermodel (who already had her own line at the time) was on board.

Fast-forward a few years later, and the pair have partnered with Simon to launch the brand's first brick-and-mortar permanent, interactive retail concepts called the Jay Manual Beauty Retail Experience, with its first location opening in Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y in mid-November.

"The reason I became friends with him is because he literally can do your makeup in 30 minutes and you look like you’re retouched," Iman joked when InStyle caught up with the pair at the Experience's launch party.

"That’s is the reason why she became friends with me, hence the Filter Finish Collection, which incorporates the Korean technology of skin-blurring ingredients in its formulas," Manuel said.

Another reason why Iman sticks around Manuel? There's always products around up for (literal) grabs. "A funny little secret: When we had the prototype for the new contour sticks that aren't out yet but are featured here tonight, this one [point at Iman] goes 'thank you!' [mimics Iman grabbing the stick]. She stole it from me!" Manuel told us. "Everyone is on the contour bandwagon. It isn't new; it's been something we've been doing for years, but having the right tones is key. Iman's coined the phrase 'strategic illumination.'"

According to both Manuel and Iman, lighting is everything when it comes to finding the right makeup shades, and providing good lighting was important in the development of the brand's retail experience. "When it came to designing the retail concept, everything right down to the lighting was thought of with the consumer in mind so that they can engage differently than in departments stores," explained Manuel. "What we’re seeing here is the what a lot of retailers don’t give you: the best natural daylight."

"In the old days people in department stores would put makeup on you, and you would go outside and say ‘idiots’ because the shade they put on didn't match you because of the store's bad lighting," Iman added.

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Aside from optimal lighting, it was key for Manuel and Iman that the experience is interactive and allows customers to touch and feel the products. "Partnering with Simon was so key because they’re allowing us to tailor the experience so that the consumers can engage differently. Since it’s powered by the Jay Manuel Beauty App, you can login and walk into one the experiences in the stores and it can alert you—kind of like the movie Minority Report—of your color profile and what products are available that fit it," explained Manuel. "All of the analytics show that even with millennials only 20% of online sales are within beauty. 80% is still done within brick-and-mortar. People love the touch and feel, but most importantly what everyone craves is an experience, which has been lost in a lot of retail."

"I think the key thing is that when it comes to beauty most of the purchases aren’t made on line because people want to touch and feel it. I wouldn’t buy cosmetics online unless I knew exactly what I was buying. I think that’s what’s missing and that’s why a lot of department stores don’t have anymore—foot traffic—because that experience is gone," adds Iman.