[Photo: courtesy of Sephora]
1/5 [Photo: courtesy of Sephora]

If you’re out at a shopping center, you’ll likely spot one of the more than 400 Sephora locations around the country. In fact, you can’t miss them. They’re sprawling storefronts, lined with rows and rows of shelves and filled with products from different brands for customers to test out. Store representatives mill about, offering advice and even full makeovers at special stations. Typically, the locations are brightly lit with loud pop music that gives the space a fun, energetic ambiance.

This format has worked well for the brand, which has been thriving in the midst of a major downturn in brick-and-mortar retail. But today, Sephora announced it is tinkering with a new kind of store: an intimate boutique embedded in a neighborhood.

The very first of these stores, which will be called the Sephora Studio, is launching on Newbury Street, the charming upmarket shopping street in downtown Boston, full of historic brick and stone buildings. The store is across the street from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Ralph Lauren, and a local coffee shop called the Thinking Cup. While most Sephora stores make a big statement with their large storefronts, this small store attempts to blend into its locale.

I visited the store a day before it would be open to the public on July 21. It had some of the hallmarks of Sephora’s branding, including the bold black and white color palette, but with a few local tweaks. “Hello Newbury Street” is etched in cursive on the marble floor as you enter, signaling that this store was custom-built for this location. The walls are full of exposed brick that draws from the surrounding architecture. And it generally feels more serene and peaceful than a traditional Sephora.

“We picked Newbury Street because it is a classic neighborhood shopping street,” says Calvin McDonald, CEO of…