When Jessica Richards, founder of Brooklyn’s clean-beauty destination Shen Beauty, was forced to close her shop’s doors months ago, it also meant she had to postpone the reveal of her brand-new flagship.
A full year after Richards signed the lease on her new space—making ample time to fine-tune every detail—the founder and beauty connoisseur is ready to reveal her labor of love. “It’s been a wild ride,” Richards tells us. The result, however, is one worth waiting for.
Unlike many beauty retailers, this space is light, bright and every bit minimalistic yet meticulously thought out. “I wanted the space to feel feminine without looking overly feminine,” explains Richards. From light-adjusting full-length mirrors lining the walls, a sink for hand-washing and the most chic way to sample a foundation we’ve ever seen, Richards has not left one stone unturned. “Shoppers needed to have an experience that they walked into like they hadn’t seen before,” she says.
With beauty testers quickly becoming taboo, Richards makes a case for the experiential. “Beauty is such a sensorial thing. You really have to feel the texture, see if it absorbs into your skin, if you like the scent.” After much discussion, Richards landed on a concept based on a painter’s palette.
“Each customer will have their own palette; if they would like to try something, a sales associate will help them sample a skin-care or makeup product, be it shaving a piece of a lipstick they’re interested in or dotting some foundation on the palette.” Biodegradable bamboo mascara, lipstick and eyeliner wands will also be available, in addition to single-use foundation sponges. Pipettes will be available throughout the store to make sampling skin-care products easy and clean.
“This way, shoppers can still play with products while still feeling confident that they have not been touched by anyone else,” says Richards. “It’s how we’ll be doing testers for as long as I can see.”
Richards admits that relaxing during this time has been its own challenge. “I haven’t had a moment to breathe. I feel like I’ve worked 10 times harder and longer trying to figure everything out. My background is definitely not architecture or building [laughs] so it’s been a lot of work.”
Between navigating security systems and building plans, Richards credits long walks on the beach with her two sons to helping clear her mind, along with a new addition to her nighttime routine. “I got addicted to Gossamer Dusk ($65), it really helps with my sleeping. We sell it and Verena [von Pfetten], the founder, called me and told me I had to take it every single night. And once I started doing that, I realized it really does help. It’s one of the products we carry that I would say has the most science behind it.”
New and Notable
Constantly on the hunt for the latest and greatest beauty launches, Richards lives on the forefront of the new-and-next. Here, launches she’s most excited about right now.
Bynacht: “This is the most relevant right now because it’s all based on sleep and the science of sleep. It’s a clean German brand and it’s one of my favorite recent launches; I’m really proud of it. The Glass Serum ($320) has eight strains of hyaluronic acid in it and it’s quickly become a number-one seller.”
Gossamer: “It really works and it’s backed by science. We sell The Dusk, and Verena just launched The Dawn. We’re the only retailer who has it and it really works.”
Irene Forte: “[Shen] is the only one in the U.S. who sells this one too. Daughter of Rocco Deporte, of Rocco Deporte Hotel Group, Irene was the head of their spas and she launched her own brand that’s all based on sustainability. The packaging, glass and ingredients are all made or grown in Italy—the goal is to make it as carbon neutral as possible.”
Haoma: “I love their Cleansing Balm ($85)—it has so much science behind it. It’s a solidified cleansing balm, which is what you would expect, mixed with a cleansing gel, but it doesn’t foam—it creams, and then rinses off. I hadn’t tried anything like that.”
When asked to name the most underrated products on her shelves, Richards offered up two must-try skus.
Leland Francis Twenty-Nine Botanical Serum ($85): “Leland is a makeup artist—I think it’s really interesting when a makeup artist creates a skin-care line. Rather than trying to cover up your skin, they’re trying to enhance it from the inside out. Not many people know about it and some people are hesitant to try a line they haven’t heard of, but it’s really, really nice.”
Dr. Rogers Healing Balm ($30): “It’s so amazing and when you understand what’s in that versus an Aquaphor, you’re just shocked. It’s awesome. I use it on everything. I’m a huge fan of her entire line.”
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