When it came to opening her own business, Desiree Verdejo went back to her roots in Harlem to start her brick-and-mortar beauty establishment, Vivrant Beauty.
Define what womanhood means to you.
DV: Womanhood is complex, intuitive and vulnerable. It's also highly-individual, so I'll just stop there.
You practiced law for seven years before transitioning to entrepreneurship. What words of advice do you have for someone looking to start their own entrepreneurial journey.
DV: One of my biggest regrets is how long it took me to transition to launching Vivrant Beauty. My advice would be to start where you can. It's not always possible to quit your current job and immediately start your dream job or dream company, but it's always possible to take steps in that direction. Even small steps like research and networking are amazing ways to inch closer to your goals.
As a beauty junkie, what are a few tried-and-true beauty products that you always incorporate in your beauty regimen?
DV: Every week I incorporate a deep pore mask into my skincare regimen and I'm a huge fan of Indie Lee's Clearing Mask for preventing and treating acne blemishes. I often wear my hair in box braids and use Girl + Hair Under Hair Care Styling System to wash and moisturize my hair. The system was created by a black female doctor specifically for women wearing protective styles.
What about your craft has given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment?
DV: One of the most satisfying parts of what I'm doing is that I interact with amazing, supportive small business owners each day. There's a great deal of information sharing, inspiring conversation and collaborating on events and activations. I never feel like I'm alone in this process.
What do you do for self-care?
DV: The biggest thing that I gift myself is a slow, indulgent morning. I start at about 6:30 AM so that I can lay around, read and listen to NPR for about 15 minutes. I also enjoy taking the time to make a simple, healthy breakfast (and a balanced lunch if I'm not running around the city before I head to the boutique). I appreciate morning conversations with my husband too- at the end of the day conversation tend to be influenced by the events of the day, but the discussions when you first open your eyes are much more vivid. I love a slow start to the day because it inevitably gets away from you once you walk out of the door.
Why was it important for you to open Vivrant in Harlem?
DV: The Vivrant woman is diverse, in-the-know, discerning and well-read. She's synonymous with the Harlem woman. As a native Harlemite, I realized immediately that this neighborhood would be a great launching point for Vivrant Beauty.
In celebration of Women's History Month, what is a message you'd like to share with women?
DV: Supporting women is the key to our success overall and sometimes that begins with the simple act of being aware of the stereotypes we have about, and the damaging language that we might use towards, each other.
What are your three favorite restaurants in NYC?
DV: Wow, that's a tough task. Fish and seafood are my favorites, so Estiatorio Milos is always impressive. Just thinking about the pasta at Maialino's gets me excited, and I also love Joseph Leonard in the West Village – they have a Pork Hock dish with capers that is perfect when you want hearty, comfort food.