Behind the Closing of Shen Beauty, a Brooklyn Boutique


Monica Dawidowicz, an aesthetician who worked at Shen from 2020 to 2023, also said Ms. Richards had a habit of yelling at employees. “Sometimes, quite literally, she’d be screaming at the top of her lungs,” Ms. Dawidowicz said. Carrie Lindsey, another former employee, said working at Shen had taken a toll on her mental and physical health. “It’s hard, because there were good times, too,” Ms. Lindsey said. “It’s a typical abusive relationship.”

Ms. Richards had no comment on whether she had yelled at employees or used an offensive term.

Samson Smith said he had enjoyed part of his time working at Shen. But he quit after several years, because, he said, he had “had enough.” He added that he had heard Ms. Richards refer disparagingly to people of color. “My dad always told me not to hire fat or Black people because they’re lazy,” Mr. Smith, who is white, recalled Ms. Richards saying.

“It felt like she was saying it to test how I would respond,” he added.

Another employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal sensitive conversations, recalled Ms. Richards making a similar comment.

Ms. Richards wrote in an email to The Times that she had “never avoided hiring people of color or insulted someone for their race or size because doing so would be against everything I believe in, and my commitment to diversity and inclusion is backed up by the numbers: Most of my hires chosen by me personally were people of color, and the majority of our staff were people of color or part of the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community.”

Some employees described being touched inappropriately by a manager at work. Mr. Smith said this manager had slapped his butt; Ms. Willson said the manager had groped her breasts. After employees complained to Ms. Richards, the manager was fired. But Ms. Richards ended up bringing the former manager back to the store.

Ms. Richards acknowledged that she had fired and rehired the employee in question, adding, “My initial instinct was correct, and I regret giving her a second chance.”


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