THE INTERIOR OF COBBLE HILL'S SHEN BEAUTY. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM HEUBERGER.
Brooklyn just got a makeover. Jessica Richards and Jules Stringer (writer of Beauty Scoop) have brought a new boutique, Shen Beauty, to Cobble Hill. They officially opened their doors on October 2, but are having an opening party November 4 for British facialist Amanda Lacey, hosted by Jessica Stam and Jen Brill. We sat down with co-owner Jessica Richards for a chat about her brand-new, Brooklyn-based beauty boutique. Watch out, Sephora.
SARAH HOWARD: How did you get into the business?
JESSICA RICHARDS: It's an interesting thing, because I was never in the beauty business. I have always enjoyed the really nice basics: a nice face wash, fabulous face cream, a good scrub, great mascara and eyeliner, and just chapstick. I worked previously as a freelance stylist, basically taking any job I could as an assistant or styling shoots for lesser-known magazines. I always say I paid to work, didn't get paid to work.
HOWARD: What brands do you carry?
RICHARDS: Exclusives are Amanda Lacey, Kate Logan, Immunocologie, Lubatti, Mrs. White's, Nicole Paxson, Andrea Garland Balms. Others include Becca, Lipstick Queen, Jemma Kidd, RMS, Anastasia, Dr. Kenneth Mark, Clean Start by Dermalogica, Aromatherapy Associates, Bubble Roome, Tracy Stern Beauty Tea, Karma Organic Nails, Infusion Organique, Alexa Rudolfo, LAFCO candles, Out of Africa, Simpatico, Miss Marisa, Melange, Ebba for men, Ilari Perfume, My Skin & Bones, Prtty Peaushun, Steam Cream, Revolution in Cut by Ric Pipino, La Fee extras from Paris.
HOWARD: Why did you open up a cosmetics boutique?
RICHARDS: I opened a cosmetics boutique in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn because I live here and there is no place to buy nice products. I had just had a baby, and my nanny dropped my face cream out of my vanity in my bathroom and it shattered. At the time, with a newborn, I had neither time nor any energy to go into the city to get any good products. So I walked up to the main drag, Court Street and Smith Street to look for some, and realized there were no fabulous beauty stores. I could either go to Ricky's or CVS/Rite Aid. I am a simple girl in the makeup area, but I like the products to be really nice and nourishing on my skin. Super-luxe, if you will. I decided that day I was going to open a shop. I didn't know how, but I knew I was going to do it. Five months after meeting my partner, Jules Stringer, at a Jay-Z concert, we have a little shop in Brooklyn with no competition.
HOWARD: What makes your place different from, say, Sephora?
RICHARDS: We believe that we are the antithesis of Sephora. We strive to be nothing like Sephora; to be honest, I don't think we even carry one brand that Sephora carries. We are a nice and inviting shop, with sugarplum walls and bright-pink Plexiglas shelving units from Vitsoe. Our store is a mix of mod with antique, and we want to accommodate to every customer. We sell a well-edited selection of niche brands from around the world. We have many exclusives, but more important than the exclusives is the fact that my partner and I firmly believe in every product we sell and use it ourselves. It is not just a high price point, but every price point in between, we have body washes from $9 to $75. We don't want to be intimidating for the people who do not have a lot of disposable income, and we want to cater to the people who are happy to spend money on good quality products without the brand name and recognition. People seem to be struggling with that at the moment, but after they use, say, an Amanda Lacey Product, they come back and buy another one from her. It's just a matter of them taking a chance trying a new product and trusting us.
HOWARD: What's your must-have fall product? Why?
RICHARDS: I think that there are a few must-have fall products. Number one, I think an amazing moisturizer for your face-I would go with either an oil, like the camellia oil from Amanda Lacey, which you massage into your skin at night. People in the US are a little frightened by putting oils on their face, but once they do, they can't get enough of them. Using an oil on your skin really helps with elasticity and helps to prevent aging. For day, either the Amanda Lacey day moisturizer with SPF 15 or the Almond Honey Gorgeous Day Moisturizer from Lubatti. They are both fabulous; I switch between both. Once you have a gorgeous face, with nourished and clear skin, all you need is a great red lip like SAINT RED from Lipstick Queen and a Becca black mascara. I think the Becca mascara the anti-aging mascara because when you take it off, you don't have to rub the skin around your eyes. It creates a tube around each lash, which comes off clean and easy. If you sleep in it you will never get raccoon eyes in the morning.