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Interview

Meet Jessica Richards, Founder of Shen Beauty

We sit down with the woman behind the careful curation of Shen Beauty and have a look at beauty through her eyes. 

California girl turned Vogue stylist turned mom, Jessica Richards found herself in Brooklyn to raise her family. A few months after giving birth and tragically breaking her skin cream, she couldn’t find a skincare store in her own borough to get a new one. After one too many trips to Manhattan, Jessica decided to open up her own organic beauty store in Brooklyn. While the store will always have Jessica’s heart, Shen Beauty has grown into an international platform that attracts consumers from Manhattan, Europe, Asia and beyond.

Because of Shen Beauty’s high standards of innovation, sustainability, and quality, beauty brands are eager to receive Jessica’s Seal of Approval. At BWB, we’re happy we passed the Jessica test with flying colors! Join as we sit down with the woman behind the careful curation and take a look at beauty through her eyes.

What are the tell-tale signs you look for in a successful brand?

When looking at new brands to bring into Shen or to launch in the U.S., I focus on a couple of things. First, is it something your eye would be drawn to learn more about? Does the primary and secondary packaging look nice on the shelf at Shen? Will it look nice in your bathroom?

Second, is the product effective? Does it do what it says it will do?

Third, is it something that is missing from Shen? I don’t like to create competition on my shelves between brands that I am working with.

And fourth, who is the founder? Will their story resonate with our customer? Are they easy to work with? If we can’t work together to build a brand and sales, we will ultimately not be able to create a relationship in the long-term.

What products have impressed you the most in each category?

Hair: Iles Formula

I love the sleek branding, the efficacy of the products and the simplicity of the line. Not to mention, it works magic for everyone who tries it.

Body: Nécessaire

What Randi and Nick have done with Nécessaire is perfection. A simple idea with a reasonable price point and a fantastic product.

Makeup: Westman Atelier

I love how Gucci took her expertise and threw it into a brand that we all really needed. It’s tailor-made for the woman who loves makeup but doesn’t want to look overdone, with impeccable formulations and wearability, plus great packaging.

Skincare: Decree

The formulations, the packaging, and her expertise are slim to none. Additionally, my hero product is the aerosol SPF with beneficial skincare ingredients!

What is your take on the role of TikTok in beauty today?

I wish I was young enough to understand TikTok more and spend more time there. Unfortunately, I think it’s out of my reach. I do love watching the videos and think they are amazing, but with so many social media apps from Instagram to Facebook and now TikTok—it’s overwhelming! I think it’s a great platform for makeup, but not necessarily skincare.

How do you see the role of brick and mortar evolving?

I have always focused on brick and mortar first. I feel that beauty is the most sensorial thing, from how it looks to how it feels to how it sits in your skin throughout the day. In addition, beauty stores create spaces where women can learn, experience and talk to other women. Shen is not a store that just wants to sell you something and get you out the door. We focus on helping the customer understand what they are buying, why they are buying it, and what it is going to do for their skin. We build lasting, meaningful relationships with our clients. While offering e-commerce is essential, I think building that personal connection with your community is more important.

What will we see more of in the next 12 months?

The next 12 months are a big question mark. We have a new president, a pandemic, a massive unemployment rate and a country that is so broken. Coming back from this is going to be very hard.

During every downturn in the economy, red lipstick sales sky rocket since it is an easy way to change your look with little investment. As the vaccine rolls out and people start wearing masks less, I think the lipstick category is going to grow exponentially like it has in historical times of financial depression or instability.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

The advice I would give my younger self is to work hard, never burn a bridge as you never know where you will run into that person again, and to wear SPF!

Teresa Deely

Teresa Deely is a graduate from Columbia University with majors in English and Creative Writing. She is a freelance writer and marketing assistant working for clients in the wellness, jewelry, creative, and sports industries. She believes that one’s skin is yet another canvas and vehicle for art, and has loved styling her hair and applying makeup from a young age. Spending much of her time in educating youth and leading enrichment programs for children, she is highly motivated in discovering new ways to care for herself and sharing them with others.

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