I admire dream chasers and even more so, dream catchers. Desiree Verdejo, founder of Vivrant Beauty is a dream catcher. After working as a lawyer for 7 years, Desiree hopped off the corporate ladder and decided she wanted to become an entrepreneur. Her passion for beauty was so much that no law degree and career could hold it down and thus, Vivrant Beauty was born.
Vivrant Beauty is Harlem's newest beauty gem and the first boutique beauty shop. It stocks beauty goodies from dozens of retailers and provides consumers with carefully curated list of items from well known labels such as Mario Badescu to newer more niche brands like Girl + Hair. Desiree also seeks out products and brands that are "ingredient-conscious, women-owned, person-of-color owned and local beauty brands."
Desiree is more than a beauty junkie -- she's is putting her money where her mouth is, literally. I recently caught up with her for a quick chat:
What was your biggest challenge in starting Vivrant Beauty and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges to launching Vivrant Beauty was to get products on the shelves. It’s a bit of a process figuring out how to connect with brands and an added hurdle was that I needed to convince some brands that Vivrant Beauty would be a good retail home for them. I was new to the beauty industry, and Harlem until now had not been a destination for premium beauty brands so it was an uphill battle.
Figuring out the process just involved a commitment of time and research. Regarding the brands, I was persistent (read: annoying) and gave them updates on the boutique at different stages. I was ultimately able to convince folks that the boutique would be something different that they would want to be a part of.
How has Harlem responded to Vivrant Beauty?
Our customers are in the know beauty lovers from throughout NYC but our Harlem customers are super supportive. The Harlem girls don’t just text their friends to spread the word about us, they literally drag them in. Most of the customers that I’ve talked to love supporting uptown establishments and seem happy that they don’t always have to go downtown to update their beauty arsenal.
What differentiates Vivrant Beauty from other beauty supply stores/boutiques?
There are a lot of things that differentiates Vivrant from the rest but one bit of feedback I always get is that our inviting setting, thoughtful curated mix and product organization makes the shopping experience with us very calm and approachable. A lot of other beauty retail shops can be more overwhelming.
How do you decide which products to stock?
It’s important to have a balanced selection of products regarding price points, organic versus technologically enhanced, and products for all skin tones and hair textures. I am always thinking about whether an item adds something new to our selection. Also, I always think about the other stores where my customers shop- if something is too readily available in those stores than it makes no sense at Vivrant.
Who is your ideal consumer?
My ideal customer is committed to hair, skin and overall health, is knowledgeable about products and ingredients, and has a balance of a desire to try new things and loyalty to what works.
Do you offer any personalized in store service like makeup tutorials or skin analysis? (if yes, please explain how it works. If no, is it something you have planned for future?)
Most of our customers come in with specific skin and hair concerns so part of our typical customer service involves product and regimen recommendations. We also have a make-up artist on board for those customers that want a glam look before their shower, birthday dinner, press event, etc.
I couldn't wrap this without asking, what are your favorite skincare products of the moment and why?
A few of my favorite items right now are:
Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips Rose Plenishing Face Cream. I adore this brand because they manage to offer organic products at a very approachable price. This face cream is rich with rose water and rose hip oil and feels so luxe and creamy going on. It’s a great winter moisturizer.
Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask because I have breakout prone skin and this mask keeps things under control.
Ren’s Micropolish Cleanser My skin is noticeably duller in the wintertime and this glycolic-based gentle scrub keeps my face bright.
Desiree Verdejo is proof positive that it's always worth it to chase your dreams -- even after making great strides down another path.