COCOBelle: Desiree Verdejo of Vivrant Beauty

What happens when an attorney discovers a passion for hair and skin care and decides to pursue a new profession? You get Vivrant Beauty, a brand new space for beauty that focuses on women-owned, person of color-owned brands, and products that meet at the intersection of being toxin-free and yet still effective. We asked owner Desiree Verdejo about what it took for her to pursue a brand new career as an entrepreneur, what sets Vivrant Beauty apart from other beauty spaces, and of course, what’s in her Ultimate Beauty Arsenal. Keep reading for more on how this space (that is quickly becoming a brown girl favorite) got its start.

When did you first discover a passion for hair and skin care?
I struggled with skin problems as a teenager so my obsession with and knowledge about skincare started really early. The excitement only grew when I went natural years ago and began to explore natural hair products and all of the amazing ingredients that they contained. Before that time, I'd worn my hair in weaves and went to the hair salon frequently. I'd never spent much time thinking about hair products and healthy hair practices. I got so excited about the gorgeous products, the people behind the brands and the blogosphere that was teaching me so much.

Tell us about the Vivrant Beauty experience; what sets it apart from other beauty retail spaces?
Vivrant Beauty strikes that balance of peaceful but exciting. We have handpicked skin, hair and makeup products to cater to all skin tones and hair textures, and our customers notice that variety as soon as they walk in the door. We focus on ingredient conscious, women-owned and black-owned product brands in a way that is not considered in other shops. Lastly, our team caters to and informs our customers without being overbearing. The environment and product selection sets Vivrant apart other beauty retailers.


Vivrant Beauty supports "ingredient-conscious, women-owned, person-of-color owned and local beauty brands". Why is this important?
The products that we put on our shelves all have something in common- they're all effective and thoughtfully presented. I think that when more than 50% of our products are organic or botanically based, we are really signaling to our customers and to the beauty market that you can have results-oriented toxin-free products. Similarly, when we line our shelves with products from person-of-color owned brands, we are also making a huge statement to all that are paying attention that despite what the shelves of some retailers may suggest, there are gorgeously done products (in all beauty categories!) by people of color.

You were an attorney for seven years before opening the doors of your business. What steps did you take to prepare for the transition from attorney to entrepreneur?
They say that when you are doing what you love it doesn't feel like work. My biggest preparation was in the research that I did to prepare myself to line our shelves and to communicate with customers on a daily basis about problems and products. Reading books on ingredients, blogs with product reviews and attending events to become aware of loved and emerging brands never felt like work though. It was actually what I did for fun on my down time as an attorney.

In what ways did making such a bold career move make you feel empowered?
Leaving the corporate realm behind to launch Vivrant Beauty felt like I was finally betting on myself. It's definitely powerful to commit to spending your days developing your own idea or product as opposed to someone else's. What's intensified how good it feels is the support that I've felt from customers, Harlem neighbors and the beauty industry overall.


Let's talk lifestyle. How do you make time for self-care while running a busy beauty retail business?
If I'm honest making time for myself is something that I'm still learning as a new entrepreneur. I wake up early every day with my mind racing with tasks and ideas, feeling like I should've awakened and started an hour earlier. I feel at my best when I start the day early, fit in a work out, eat a healthy breakfast, and then prepare a balanced lunch for myself to carry to the boutique. I had a vision of my life as an entrepreneur including daily mid-day yoga sessions and long tea breaks. While they make an occasional appearance these days, I'm still working on making that happen consistently.

Tell us about your professional style. What does “work wear” look like for you, and how does it align with the Vivrant Beauty brand?
The Vivrant Beauty brand is chill and approachable but still chic so I always keep that in the back of my mind when getting dressed in the morning. Right now, my go-to's are sweater dresses and booties, textured shorts with over-the-knee boots, and my absolute favorite: wide-leg pants.


What 3 items are in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal–those Holy Grail items you just can’t live without?
There are many face washes that have more exciting ingredients or prettier packaging but despite that I always always always have Mario Badescu's Enzyme Cleansing Gel on hand. It's a delicate exfoliant that leaves your skin feeling smooth and soft.

TGIN's Honey Miracle Hair Mask is a must-have for me. It's a deep conditioner that's infused with honey and olive oil and leaves my kinks soft, shiny and easy to detangle.

My hair also loves Indie Lee's Patchouli Sandalwood Moisturizing Oil. It's jojoba oil that is the perfect consistency for my hair--not too heavy but incredibly hydrating--and the scent is addictive. Whatever's left on my hands I'll massage onto my neck and shoulders.

Want more Desiree Verdejo and Vivrant Beauty? Head to the website to peruse their brands, and follow Vivrant Beauty on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.