How Cos Bar Went From Niche Market To Mainstream


Situated at 8,000 feet above sea level, the luxury ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado is a dry, dry place. There's very little humidity or moisture in the air, and that, in conjunction with Aspen's cerulean blue, super sunny skies, means the skin is prone to aging rapidly. Fortunately, both residents of and visitors to Aspen can rely on Lily Garfield and Cos Bar.

Garfield set up Cos Bar, a one-stop shop for luxury beauty brands, in 1976 with the Aspen climate in mind. Back then, she says, “the only skincare that was available were drugstore brands that were sold in a pharmacy and I knew our local ladies needed something better."

She scouted around carefully for those brands she knew would counter the effects of the local weather, zeroing in on French brands Lancôme and Orlane (both of which Cos Bar still carries today) and other European skincare names with solid reputations that she knew were ideally suited to Aspen's harsh climate.

“I brought in products like cleansing lotions and creams, eye creams, face creams and hand creams – products focused on moisturizing, to name a few"

The local ladies of Aspen – who, at the outset, were Garfield's target client base -- enthusiastically received every item she brought into Cos Bar.

Their best interests were her chief concern because while it has become synonymous with wealth and luxury, Aspen was not always the playground of the rich, the famous and the fabulous.

“There were no luxury stores back in the '70s," Garfield says. “Over the years, Aspen has become an extremely popular tourist destination and luxury stores started to open. In the '70s, I was inspired to open a cosmetics boutique that would become synonymous with quality, personally selecting skincare, makeup and fragrances from the world's best brands."

Today, Cos Bar caters to both local customers and visitors to Aspen, serving clients who shopped at the store when it first opened in 1976 and others who happen to be in town and chance upon Cos Bar.

There are now 15 Cos Bar stores in 10 different states and the company has a growing e-commerce business as well.

“We meet customers in Aspen who have discovered us in one of our other markets, or through out e-commerce site," Garfield says. “It's all very exciting to see our client base grow and evolve."

Garfield and her team make it their mission to carefully stock each Cos Bar store, selecting brands and products for every location depending on customer demand, climate and lifestyle.

“We do not carry the same assortment in every door – we have stores in cities, mountains, deserts and beaches, and we curate and cater to each market's need," Garfield says.

Cos Bar stores today stock around 88 brands (including names like Sisley, Cle de Peau, Tata Harper, La Mer and La Prairie, among others) give or take a few, and Garfield has plans to triple the store's footprint to around 50 locations in the next few years.

“Women of all ages are always going to be looking for effective products no matter what is on trend," she says. “They are looking for the right product for them. We offer thoughtful solutions, and we cater to each customer's unique needs by carrying an array of the best beauty products in the world. We want our customers to leave feeling great about themselves and their purchase."

Most importantly, Cos Bar's mission remains unchanged from its beginnings in 1976: Service has always been and remains the bottom line, Garfield says.

“We have trained beauty specialists who know every product in our store and they educate and advise customers on products that will suit their needs and lifestyle," she says. “We are passionate about helping our customers, and we want them to walk away having learned something new."

5 min read

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.