A dropped jar of Natura Bissé face cream was the unlikely catalyst that led to Jessica Richards becoming the hip young queen of the indie beauty scene. She had recently moved to Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, from Manhattan and realized there was no place local where she could replace it. She would have to cross the East River. Richards, a former fashion stylist, decided to rectify matters herself. Thus was born Shen Beauty, the meticulously curated beauty boutique that, since its opening in 2010, has gained a reputation for scouting out the latest and greatest brands from across the globe. Richards, who recently enlarged Shen’s service offerings and hopes to expand to Williamsburg in early 2015, has an equally unerring eye for the trends that resonate with her style-conscious customers and beyond. We enlisted her to join us backstage at New York Fashion Week to cover the key directions for beauty next spring. Here’s how she’ll translate runway inspiration into retail sales.
BOLD BROWS: Strong brows added a daring boldness. Badgley Mischka took the look to the next level by incorporating color tints like lilac; Rodarte lined the brows in rings. I loved the beautifully groomed, full natural brows at Jason Wu, Rag & Bone and BCBG Max Azaria. I think it adds a gorgeous architecture to the face. My clients are very into brows—in the last two years, our business has gone crazy. It’s virtually impossible to get an appointment at our Brow Bar right now.
LUMINOUS SKIN: Luminous skin was the biggest statement trending for makeup.
At Carolina Herrera, Tory Burch, Wes Gordon and Donna Karan, the skin was incredible. Alexander Wang actually brought in facialist Georgia Louise (her clients include Katie Perry and Gucci Westman) to give his models that freshly lifted, radiant glow. Georgia’s sculpting Butterfly Stones have been selling out in my shop. It’s about getting the circulation moving and is an easy thing for a client to do in front of the TV at night. For spring, I’ll educate my clients about choosing the right combination of face oil and makeup luminizer to create glowy skin. Already, sales of oils are up about 20 percent this year; spring’s glowy skin will drive it even more.
BRAIDS: Braids were a strong presence. (I’m always fascinated with a fishtail braid because I can’t do them myself—at all.) I loved, loved, loved what Micheal Kors did with braids—superloose and almost coming undone, the look was so pretty and organic. A loose haphazard braid that still looks chic—this we can all do!
BUNS: Carolina Herrera showed us bun art—flawlessly smooth and flatironed and then tied in a perfect knot. Wow. Nanette Lepore also tied it up in style with a high knotted bun. I have a customer who needs to be able to pull it all together in the morning—a Mason Pearson brush with a styling product will slick back hair and make it easy to manipulate with your fingers.
EYELASHES: Eyelashes were a big standout. Altuzarra really got it right by placing individual lashes just in the center of the upper and lower lash line. This is a simple runway trick I’ll recommend for my clients at home. It widens the eye to look more awake and adds definition to the face. For those who want more drama, I’ll recommend taking eyelash inspiration from Thom Browne, who maximized a smoky eye look by doubling up on the eyelash track on the top lid and applying a single track to the lower lash line. I plan on stocking up on eyelashes and hosting makeup lessons in my shop to be ready for this trend this spring.
PONYTAILS: Low ponytails swept me away. Pulling your hair back away from your face immediately makes you look more put-together. Our Tangle Teezer is a great tool to achieve a perfectly sleek and smooth ponytail. I loved Delpozo’s hair on the runway, a superstraight pony bound low—beautiful, clean and modern. There’s also something sexy about that willowy look of loose pieces wisping around the face, almost like you’re not trying. Watching all the girls getting groomed backstage made me realize the importance of styling products. I’ll bring in some new mousses, sprays and texturizing products to give my business a boost.
NATURAL VS. METALLIC NAILS: Clean, groomed and often with a matte finish—the understatement made a statement when it came to nails. At Rodarte and Jay Godfrey, the girls wore a natural nail look but with a small sliver of color along the cuticle line—a fun, easy accent for my clients. I also loved the metallics this season, because they complement any color you wear.
NATURAL BEAUTY: I always love to see a natural look coming down the runway. Even though I know a stylist meticulously moussed and ironed each casual-looking wave, I’m still inspired by the easiness of it all. The tawniness of the makeup enhances everybody’s skin tone. James Read makes an overnight sleep-mask tan which everyone is buying. It’s clear and doesn’t smell, so people are inclined to buy it, and when you wake up, it makes you one shade darker.
THE EYE, DEFINED: Eyeliner was everywhere—softly smudged here, thick and roughly drawn there, even used as bright pops of color. For my clients, it will be an easy way to inject playfulness into their makeup routines. I’ve already seen some great options for spring, such as By Terry’s eye-shadow pencils (they double as eyeliners) in superfun colors.
315 Court Street
Brooklyn, N.Y., 11231
Size of store: 1,400 square feet
Year founded: 2010
Premise: Shen offers luxury and niche brands across all product categories from around the world, specializing in emerging lines that are new or exclusive to the U.S. market.
Number of brands: 80
Top five brands: Amanda Lacey, Phylia de M, Kjaer Weiss, Kahina, Pur Soma
Best-selling products: Amanda Lacey Cleansing Pomade, Suman Brightening Serum, Antonia Burrell Cream Supreme, Mrs Whites Unstung Hero
Annual retail sales: $750,000 (not including Website or services)
Number of employees: 5