Seven years ago, Desiree Verdejo made a career transition from a corporate lawyer to a beauty boutique owner. Today, she is the founder of Hyper Skin, an award-winning cleaning and vegan skincare brand for melanated skin.
Verdejo, who is Puerto Rican and African American, said she struggled with acne in her teenage years, followed by a horrible bout of adult-hormonal acne and stubborn hyperpigmentation. “So I’ve always been very aware of that connection of how much better you feel when your skin is at its healthiest, and that’s always inspired my enthusiasm and passion — and maybe obsession — for skincare,” she told Refinery 29.
Verdejo’s passion for skin care products led her to curate her first business which was a beauty boutique in 2015. She launched Vivrant Beauty, which at the time was Harlem’s first luxury beauty boutique. Her product prioritized the haircare and skincare needs of black women.
However, in 2018, she reevaluated her business operation following the rise in beauty e-commerce. This led her to close her brick-and-mortar shop and its website. She intended to shift the business strategy but ended up pivoting completely from retail to focusing on a product brand.
All this while, she was still dealing with cystic acne and experimenting with several products on the market that were not conducive to her skin. This led her to create Hyper Skin in 2019, and her first product became an instant hit.
“There has always been a major lack of diversity in the skincare and beauty space. As a woman of colour and skincare enthusiast, I always felt the lack of representation in the skincare space from who the products were formulated for to the advertising of products,” she said.
According to Verdejo, she founded Hyper Skin because she wanted to solve the lack of diversity in the skincare and beauty space and her own skincare problem with the goal of not only targeting dark spots and discoloration but to do so for Black and brown skin tones and really shine a spotlight on celebrating diversity.
Verdejo’s career switch has been a bold decision to make considering that her leaving behind a stable career as a corporate lawyer meant risking a comfortable salary and other associated benefits for the unknown. But she did not make the move without preparation.
Verdejo saved up some money and conditioned herself mentally to transition into the uncharted waters of her niche beauty space. Her ambitious goals and busy schedules have not numbed her enthusiasm for meeting people, networking in the beauty space, exploring brands and looking into opportunities to diversify into the real estate market in New York.
According to Verdejo, Hyper Skin’s success has been gradual, but consistent. “It has been a consistent month-on-month growth as an existing brand and by continuously honing in on who we are and what we’re building up,” she says.