Like clothing boutiques, Manhattan has plenty of beauty shops. But for the increasing numbers of fashionable folks who now live in Brooklyn, it hasn’t always been so easy. That’s why Jessica Richards opened Shen Beauty — for "purely selfish reasons" — five years ago, in Cobble Hill. And it became apparent she wasn’t the only one jonesing for a place close by to buy a great cleanser.
Quickly it turned into a hot spot among quite a coveted crowd. Stylist Mary Alice Stephenson, Instagram’s Eva Chen, Moda Operandi co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo, model Jamie Bochert and fashion consultant Stacy London, among others, shop the just-renovated shop that stocks tightly curated organic and non-organic labels from all over the world and the U.S. For Richards it’s not about buying an entire range, but picking out and vetting the exact products that really work — like "hero product" Amanda Lacey Cleansing Pomade ($110).
"I originally opened it focusing only on organic and a few natural products, but I learned very quickly that not all people shop that way or live that way," says Richards. "It is difficult to live completely that way. Not to mention, people really want products that work quickly and show instant results." Her two best-sellers are SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic ($162) and Pai Rosehip Seed Oil ($42), which esthetician Carrie Lindsay recommends to "all the girls," Richards says.
Some of Lindsay’s high-profile clientele include Girls’ Jemima Kirke, Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells, who visit one of now two treatment rooms for their facials. So while the space is undoubtedly pretty, and the products in it beautiful and eye-catching too, one of the things the Shen girls do best is find the formulas that are perfect for each customer. They also give tips on how to use them — for example, dabbing Amanda Lacey Miracle Tonic ($88) to zap occasional pesky zits or refreshing midday with May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden mist ($60).
"My staff and I aim to help women address their skin needs and concerns and not oversell them," Richards says. "I want people to feel comfortable and happy with their purchases, not like they walked out with all this stuff and they don’t know how to use it. Shen has become a beauty haven and hangout for the Brooklyn girls who strive to have a healthy lifestyle."