It’s a joy to talk about a woman who can inspire us all. Desiree Verdejo, a corporate lawyer turned Harlem’s new beauty guru and owner of Vivrant Beauty; a boutique for women of all hair textures and skin tones. Desiree took a risk and it flourished! Vivrant Beauty is a chic boutique housing a range of products mostly owned by women. J’ADORE! I had the pleasure of making a visit to Vivrant Beauty for the Grand Opening in Harlem last week. Mimosa’s, rich desserts, a DJ and store full of must-haves! I left with a new line specifically made for “under hair care”. It’s haircare for the tresses that often get neglected underneath braids and weaves called Girl + Hair (owned by a woman)!
Desiree’s dream became a reality and is carrying on brilliantly in HER OWN SKIN.
Honestly there were a lot of incidents and realizations that led me to work for myself, pursue a career in beauty and open a premium beauty boutique but one of the first moments that pushed me in this direction was about 5 years ago. I’d just “big-chopped” and was in the market for hair products for my newly curly kinky hair. I recall going to my local Korean beauty supply store to find hair products. The products for natural hair, or at least the more expensive brands that I was seeking out, were behind the counter and there was no one there to give me any guidance. It made me realize that there are a lot of people profiting from selling to women that look like me but very few people catering to us.
2. The best part of this journey has been…
Meeting other dynamic women that have carved out fulfilling careers. There’s no doubt that I’m a beauty-junkie but the majority of the brands that line our shelves are women-owned and my interactions with these beauty entrepreneurs have been the most inspiring, educational and satisfying aspect during this process.
3. What are your top 3 favorite beauty products?
This is the hardest question to ask a product lover but a few things that immediately come to mind are:
1) Ren’s Glycolic Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask – I’ve always had acne prone skin, one of the major reasons that I know as much as I do about skincare and ingredients, and I’ve finally gotten my break outs under control. My current obsession is getting an even skin tone. I’ve seen great results with this mask for clearing up scarring and it also leaves your skin with a fresh glow so it definitely a weekly go to for me.
2) Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Green Tea Shampoo – I’m never really impressed by shampoos and usually reach for the one that’s the least horrible, the least stripping, etc. This sulfate-free shampoo is great, though. It leaves my hair feeling clean and moisturized, and it also smells really fresh and clean.
3) Denman Brushes – There are a lot of women that dedicate a day or half a day to washing, treating and detangling their hair, especially if they have curly or kinky hair. I am definitely not one of them. I enjoy the process of keeping my hair healthy but my routine is quick. I can mention a few of my favorite detangler hair products but I always use them with the Denman D3 brush to get the job done. I think that every woman with natural hair should have one. When I’m wearing my hair in an updo, bun, crown braid or any style that requires a sleek look, I reach for my Denman D82 Boar Bristle brush to get a natural sheen before I even add any product. I’ve learned that quality hair tools are just as important as the products.
4. What advice would you give another woman who is thinking about leaving her current career behind to pursue her dreams and how would you advise her to stay motivated?
It’s frustrating when you are going to a job that is not fulfilling and your mind is elsewhere. I practiced law for seven years and for the last two years, I was plotting, planning and daydreaming about “this beauty boutique that I want to open one day.” I would advise such a woman to work towards the idea that’s haunting her even while she’s in her current career. It’s not always realistic to drop everything to chase your dream career (and the practical woman in me wouldn’t advise that) but definitely start a blog, launch a website, prepare your business plan, take an internship if you have the time, head to conferences in your field of interest, begin the research and conversations that will lay the groundwork for you to transition.
One thing that I believe, in life generally, is that when it is your time, you will know it. For years it was hard for me to leave my legal career behind but once I made that decision, the opportunities that presented themselves and the people that came into my life made it very clear that I was on the path that was meant to be. It helped that I had been researching and preparing for the moment. I am glad that I didn’t wait until the day that I could dedicate all of my time to Vivrant Beauty to start laying the foundation or I would’ve missed out on a lot.
5. Talk about entrepreneurship. How does it feel to be the WOMAN in charge?
Free. Scared. Nervous. Confused, Excited. Ambitious. My feelings are all over the place but being my own boss and building my own brand above all things feels very liberating. My corporate career was pretty pleasant but there were so many standards that I felt I had to suppress myself to meet. I can recall, for example, days where we had client meetings when I had to reach into the back of my closet to grab the navy blue and grey suits, and the pale lipstick that I reserved for those occasions. Not physically standing out definitely felt like the name of the game in that environment. As an entrepreneur, its completely the opposite, I’ve had to express my story and experience in every decision from the store design and product selection, to something as small as our business card or daily social media posts. Being myself and infusing that self into what is ultimately the Vivrant Beauty brand has been a thrill.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, for example, I wake up at 6AM every day feeling like I could’ve started earlier because ultimately I realize that everything, every employee, every bill is my responsibility. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.
There she is friends; an inspiration! Have you ever dreamed about doing something totally different or something you’ve always wanted and took the steps at pursuing it? Well, here’s one way a woman made her dream a reality! Her Own Skin Loves this Vivrant Beauty! If you’re in the Harlem area, visit Vivrant Beauty at 220 Saint Nicholas Avenue. Visit the Vivrant Beauty Website or find this new beauty go-to on Instagram at VIVRANTBEAUTYNY