A makeup “mother ship”: Sephora opens Friday at West Ridge Mall

Rows upon rows of color and glimmering textures line 2,300 square feet of the new Sephora store that opens Friday morning as part of Topeka’s J.C. Penney store.


The specialty make-up, skincare and fragrance store officially opens Friday, and special deals for the first 100 customers were expected to create a line of customers beginning at 6 a.m.

Beauty manager Michelle Fountain said the Sephora would open at 10 a.m., but the mall planned to let people in to line up earlier.

It is, after all — as one woman was overheard to say — the launching of “the mother ship.” Excited posts flew onto social media when it was announced in recent months that Sephora would come to the Topeka J.C. Penneys at West Ridge Mall.

Nearly 50 different brands are sold in the store, said Fountain, who has worked for J.C. Penney for years but is new to Sephora. She has, however, been a Sephora customer for decades, and she appreciates the opportunity to impart to customers the same confidence that learning about makeup at the store has given her.

“It’s somewhere where you just feel at home. I’ve learned a ton from Sephora about makeup in my own life and how to use it,” she said. “To be able to share that with a client is amazing. To be able to make someone else feel that way, whether it’s just a lipstick or a foundation, to discover that about yourself is just fun.

“You look at people every day and it’s fun to build someone up,” Fountain added.

Sephora offers mini-makeover sessions, which are complimentary 15-minute lessons on everything from filling in your eyebrows to mini-facials and foundation matches.

“The philosophy behind Sephora is to teach you,” Fountain said.

Nine employees received in-depth training from Sephora about all the products the store carries. Education continues so employees stay on top of what’s happening in the market.

Today, with unlimited access to makeup videos on YouTube and to makeup artists teaching their own particular style, Fountain said there’s not one particular look that customers are seeking.

Helpful things like the Color IQ, which requires taking three photos and then uploading them to get a foundation match, are part of Sephora’s customer support.

For Fountain, the store’s opening is the culmination of hours of training and hard work.

“It’s finally fun,” she said, adding that it’s been wonderful to see the other beauty consultants working with customers in the past couple of days. “We did all our training; we’re doing a good job.”