Shen Beauty Founder Jessica Richards Reopens Beauty Shop During COVID-19

My architect and design company worked to design all of our own makeup displays. We want customers to focus on buying what’s right for you, not on buying by brand. It’s more important for me that you walk away with a foundation that’s right for you, rather than focusing on the brand. Another of my big focuses was adding enough mirrors so that everyone could see their full reflection. I also wanted to change the lighting so that clients could see what that makeup look or lipstick look looks like in the morning, in the daytime, in the evening, and the dark.

In addition to the redesign, we had a pandemic to consider. God, I’ve done so much to prep the store for COVID. We added a sink to the store, and there’s a sink in each treatment room. We have a thermometer that takes the customer’s temperature when they walk in the door. We also installed an air-purifying system in our HVAC system, so that it recycles and cleans the air. 

We have a hand sanitizer that’s 80 percent alcohol available in-store to be used, and anyone who spends over $50 will get one to take home. We had face masks made for all employees, as well as face shields. We ordered a specific face shield that rests on your neck, and you technically don’t have to wear a mask with them because they wrap around the whole face, but we’re using masks as well. We have temperature checks for all the staff every day. Uniforms are washed nightly. And obviously, you’re not allowed to come into the store without a mask on. There’s just so many things.

As for cost, between ventilation and the hand sanitizer and the face shields and installing laundry in the store so we could constantly do laundry, the thermometers, I would say we spent well over $100,000 in coronavirus-related preparations. And those costs keep going.

We have four new treatment rooms, but we’re only legally allowed to do anything with a mask on. We can do brows, microblading, and lash enhancements. 

Every single day — 10 times a day  — I wonder if I should have waited until all this is over. I kept going for a couple reasons. First, I was so far in that I couldn’t back out. Second, I’ve been in my neighborhood in Brooklyn for 10 years. The customers that have sent us messages have kept us going. 

And of course, my staff is my family. I’m a mom not just to my two kids but to all my staff, too, because I want to make sure they have jobs, and they’re supported. I love what I do. What am I going to do, go get another job? I opened during the financial crisis in 2010. So, if I can open and be successful during that, I just pray I can weather this storm, too.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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