Interview

Jessica Richards Founder of Shen Beauty

Originally a native of California, Jessica Richards didn’t come to the city expecting to found an internationally recognized beauty company. In fact, it all started when her disappointment with a face cream led her to understand how little Brooklyn valued beauty. So, Jessica took matters into her own hands.

It wasn’t long before she founded SHEN Beauty, and when she did, she left nothing out. SHEN Beauty offers skincare, makeup, hair care, fragrance, nail polish, and wellness products alike. Jessica covers all her bases, proposing a very well rounded, natural approach to beauty.

A critical part of her holistic approach is ensuring her consumers are educated on what they use. Beside every product on the SHEN website is a thorough description of its ingredients, their benefits, and the reasons why SHEN supports it.

Jessica Richard values the right kind of beauty. We at BWB wanted to learn more, so we asked Jessica a little bit about how she started her company, what inspires her and any possible plans for the future.

BWB: What was your first step in starting your company?

The first step in starting Shen was realizing there was a lapse in the marketplace. I realized that no one was showcasing these lovely brands that existed, particularly in Brooklyn; 5 years ago there was NOTHING!

BWB: In terms of beauty-care, how does California differ from New York? How has California inspired SHEN?

I think beauty in California and New York are very similar in that all women want to look beautiful, have glowing skin and feel good about themselves.

I would say the main difference between them is the weather and how that changes you skincare. In California you have constant sunshine but its dry so you need to hydrate with oils and apply copious amounts of sunscreen. In New York, on the other hand, it’s constantly changing seasons so you have to change your skincare accordingly.

I try and keep everything in the store as organic as possible.

BWB: SHEN offers a range of products from a range of different companies. What is your standard for selecting the products you sell?

First, the packaging must be eye catching; if I said that didn’t matter I would be lying. Second, the products must do what they claim they’re going to do. Finally, I look at the ingredients. I try and keep everything in the store as organic as possible but that obviously doesn’t work with everything.

BWB: What have been some of your largest successes? Most difficult challenges?

My absolute biggest success is being open for 5 years! I still can’t believe it. Another successes come in the form of being stopped on the street by a customer who raves about Shen has changed her skin and how happy that makes her. Or, when my staff emails me to say how happy they are to come to work and how much they love their job. Can’t top any of those!

There are so many challenges that come with opening a shop and keeping it open, curating the right assortment of products, and curating your staff. You come to understand that no matter what you think you know there is still more to learn. I just had a hard lesson recently negotiating a lease for a second location with a huge company that doesn’t care about the little people, but just about money. I ended up losing that location after I had already done the entire buy for the store, including fixtures and all.

Shiva Rose Venus Body Oil is an ultimate favorite gift of mine for my close girlfriends as it is incredibly hydrating, and smells amazing!

BWB: With the holidays just around the corner, do you have any SHEN gift recommendations?

A fornasetti candle is ALWAYS a good idea, be it for your mother, friend or boss.
Shiva Rose Venus Body Oil is an ultimate favorite gift of mine for my close girlfriends as it is incredibly hydrating, and smells amazing!
For a hostess gift in a warm local I always bring White’s Unstung Hero natural mosquito repellent. It is packaged beautifully and smells divine, and is better than a bottle of wine any day.
The ultimate relaxing bath product from Shen to gift is the Himilayan Detox Salts by Roques Oneil. These salts help everyone suffering from muscle soreness, in need of a night of relaxation or just wanting to take a bath. These salts are an easy go-to for someone you know needs to relax!

BWB: What are some of your favorite things to do in NY during the Holidays?

I love the holidays and since I have two boys it makes it much more fun to experience it through their eyes. Going to look at the tree in Rockefeller center while going ice-skating has become somewhat of a tradition. I brace myself for it weeks in advance, as it involves a lot of energy and people, but it’s so worth it. Afterwards, it’s always fun to go to Serendipity for their frozen hot chocolate. We also stop by Bergdorf Goodman; each of the kids get a Christmas tree ornament every year. We also try to write the first letter of their name on them so that later in life they know what they chose.

Another amazing thing to do with my kids is take a drive through the ditmas park holiday lights. It is like nothing you have EVER seen before and no photo can even begin to show the amount of work that these people put in. It is truly awe-inspiring.

Right before Christmas though we leave to the Caribbean and rent a house through new years so we can all get some fun before going back to work and school. We have been doing it since I was pregnant with my oldest 7 years ago.

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Lani Allen

Lani Allen is a junior at Columbia University majoring in Creative Writing with a concentration in Spanish. Having served as Vice President of her class for two years, she has since contributed written pieces and illustrations to many on-campus publications. As a writer with an interest in the beauty industry, Lani intends to pursue a career in either journalism or fashion marketing.

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