Here at Irene Forte Skincare, we have some exciting news… This month marks our launch with Shen Beauty, a clean beauty boutique nestled in the streets of Brooklyn. In celebration of our arrival in New York, here’s a short Q&A with Jessica Richards – the gorgeous face behind Shen.
Jessica is a Brooklyn-based mum and skincare guru. She founded Shen Beauty back in 2010 after struggling to find a beauty store locally; what began as an ‘insane’ whim blossomed into an established, sought-after boutique.
She has a sharp eye for ‘unicorn’ skincare and searches for the highest quality, luxury brands to line her shelves, attracting consumers from Manhattan, Europe, Asia and beyond.
Why and when did you start Shen?
I came up with the concept for Shen shortly after I had my son in 2009. I had just quit working at Vogue and was attempting to be a stay-at-home mom, but as a bit of a workaholic I quickly learnt that this was not the path for me. I grew up in Laguna Beach, California, to a mother who was incredibly into clean living and working out. I noticed that there were no clean beauty stores in my neighbourhood (Brooklyn). I wanted to bring my mother’s ‘ethos’ to Brooklyn- a store designed for women into a healthy way of life (who also understand the importance of moderation).
What have been your biggest challenges?
Challenges always seem to end up being lessons- whether it’s personal or more work-related - like getting divorced with two young kids, having an employee quit overnight who is one of your closest friends, or having an investment deal with a friend that you have known and confided in for nine years fall through because you realize he is actually trying to take advantage of you. However, for me, one of the biggest challenges has been to grow the business without having the strong financial backing that another brand might have. It’s also challenging to try and maintain relevancy in an industry that, when I first started, had no competition.
You've curated an amazing selection of brands; how do you select them?
Curating for me is not just about a trendy ingredient or finding the newest brand. It’s about packaging, having an amazing formulation with great texture and ingredients, as well as the story behind the brand. Who is the owner/founder and how will they resonate with our consumer? Can we tell their story in an authentic way? And most importantly, do we click with the brand’s team?
Why did you choose Irene Forte Skincare?
I chose Irene Forte Skincare for Shen because it immediately resonated with me and knew our customers would feel the same. The packaging was beautiful and different to anything I had seen. The formulations exceeded the packaging - my skin felt great and showed the results. Irene, the brand’s founder, was as beautiful on the outside as she was on the inside. It’s a story to be told and one in which I am very proud to tell.
You're a beauty junkie, what are your three top winter skincare tips?
Exfoliate, hydrate and use SPF!
What's the one beauty product you can't live without?
Oil...any kind of oil. Face oil that I can use on my body, body oil that has enough amazing ingredients it can be used on my face and of course, on my hair to combat those flyaways!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I think it would be a few things but, most importantly, it would be to treat everyone with respect and kindness. People never forget the way you made them feel. Don't burn bridges and just do your best. Know that no one is perfect and we all stumble, fall and get back up again.
We know that you’re working on your beautiful new store - can you share any details?
Yes, I’m super excited. The new store is a complete departure from our current space. Everything I have learnt over the last ten years of doing business has been put into creating this new space, which has been designed by Mythology. It says natural in an understated way, and I’m hoping it will revolutionise beauty retail. For example, you will see mirrors throughout the space, as I think there are not enough mirrors in other beauty retailers.