Desiree Verdejo Opens Vivrant Beauty in Harlem to Offer Black Women Quality and Options They Deserve

Desiree Verdejo, Owner of Vivrant Beauty. (ISLAND BOI PHOTOGRAPHY)

It was only a year ago that Desiree Verdejo resolved to quit her job as a corporate lawyer and pursue her lifelong dream of opening a beauty retail store. That’s quite a leap –but she took it, and today Verdejo is the owner of one of New York City’s hottest new shops, Vivrant Beauty.

The bright and airy space, which is helping to pioneer Harlem’s big beauty boom, is just a few blocks away from Harlem’s bustling 125th Street and right off the main drag of Fredrick Douglas Boulevard. And while all are welcome, the thoughtfully curated hair, skincare and makeup products have women of color in mind.

Verdejo, who was born and raised in Harlem, was frustrated by the lack of selection and the quality of products offered to black women at the average drug stores and beauty supply stores in the area.

To that end, there are no less than 40 different beauty brands lining the shelves and Vivrant Beauty’s e-commerce website, including the usual suspects like Mario Badescu Skin CareDavines, and Butter London, as well as lesser-known lines likeYouth To The PeopleBriogeo, and Stiks Cosmetiks.

“That was the goal,” Verdejo told The Huffington Post. “To have a mix of products that really matched the neighborhood that we’re in — which is super diverse.”

But the 33-year-old says she’s particularly proud of the fact that half of the companies sold at the shop are black owned.

“I don’t think black women are always thought of when it comes to luxury goods — and I think we’re also making products beautifully,” Verdejo said. “So anytime I come across [black beauty brands] I definitely want to consider them and try them. And if they’re done as well as others, then they’re a great fit for the shop.”

Verdejo isn’t alone in her mission to provide black women with a more elevated outlook on beauty. The e-commerce website DooBop.com, which was launched in 2014, has led the way in the movement and more brands are following.

While Vivrant Beauty’s e-commerce business is important to its bottom line, Verdejo wanted to open a brick and mortar location to give customers from near and far a true experience (many women frequently travel from New York’s outer boroughs and New Jersey), where they can touch, feel and learn about the unique products offered.

And if Verdejo’s sage advice, halo of natural curls and glowing brown skin are any indication of that experience and quality of goods she’s pushing, then we’re definitely on board.

We asked the beauty maven to give us a rundown of her favorite products from black-owned brands and why she loves them so much. Here’s the scoop…

1.  Briogeo “Don’t Despair, Repair!’ deep conditioning mask

Vivrant Beauty
“This is a holy-grail deep conditioner when it comes to kinky curls. It’s got rosehip oil and avocado oil and makes hair soft, detangled and shiny. Briogeo makes amazing conditioners for curly hair but this is hands-down the best.”
To buy: Briogeo “Don’t Despair, Repair!’ deep conditioning mask, $26.

2. Cleanse by Lauren Napier facial wipes

Vivrant Beauty
“These face cleansing wipes are must haves for my gym-loving customers and those with busy travel schedules. They’re individually-wrapped and made with premium hydrating ingredients like aloe and cucumber extracts — unlike your drug store wipes — that your skin will love.”
To buy: Cleanse by Lauren Napier facial wipes (box of 12), $18.

3.  Girl + Hair “Under Hair Care” Protective Restoring Balm

Vivrant Beauty
“A black doctor that wanted healthy hair under her hair weaves created this line- and it shows! It’s my go-to when rocking protective styles and my braids and weave loving customers have come back and thanked me for  introducing them to this line.”
To buy: Girl + Hair “Under Hair Care” Protective Restoring Balm, $20.

4.  Perfect Face dual foundation stick by Ashunta Sheriff

Vivrant Beauty
“This dual-ended foundation stick is the perfect item to throw in your purse. Created by celebrity makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff, it comes with a lighter and darker shade that makes concealing and contouring quick and easy.”
To buy: Perfect Face dual foundation stick by Ashunta Sheriff, $40.

5.  Ginger + Liz- “Zip Dry” drops

Vivrant Beauty
“Yes, G+ L has the trendiest, vegan nail polish colors but they also have quick dry formula that is absolutely the truth when it comes to a quick and shiny mani.”
To buy: Ginger + Liz- “Zip Dry” drops, $9.50.

6.  Earth’s Nectar “Honey Curls” gel

Vivrant Beauty
“Every curly and kinky girl wants curl definition or a bomb twist-out. No one wants hard hair or flakes. This product is the answer – I promise.”
To buy: Earth’s Nectar “Honey Curls” gel, $23.50.

7.  Oui Shave “Charlotte” set with razor and Neroli shave oil

Vivrant Beauty
“You’ll buy this luxe gilded shave kit that replaces your shave cream with an organic shave oil. And then you’ll buy one for a friend because a purple plastic razor just won’t make sense to you anymore.”
To buy: Oui Shave “Charlotte” set with razor and Neroli shave oil, $48.
article by Julee Wilson via huffingtonpost.com

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