In a world where it’s more common to be treated to a flawless complexion and a flawless haircut, one beauty boutique in New York City is making the effort to take pride in its products.
That’s right, the Pearl Room in Harlem is the first place in New Yorks art world to have its own brand of beauty products.
“This was really inspired by the beauty industry, and I wanted to see what it’s really like to be in the beauty business,” says Pearl Room founder and CEO Jessica Kornfeld.
“The beauty industry is full of very talented people who have a vision and want to bring that vision to life.”
The Pearl Room started out as a beauty salon in 2012, but it quickly took off with its signature products, like their signature skin care products and their nail polish line.
“We wanted to be the first to introduce people to the beauty community and have something that was really personal,” says Kornold.
“I thought if we can be this person, then everyone else can be that person, too.”
They began selling their own products in 2017, which includes their signature beauty products like their Pure Essence, which is used to create a glow-in-the-dark skin care product that’s also popular with Asian skincare products.
The Pearl also has a dedicated beauty salon and spa that offer their clients a wide range of treatments.
“Our goal is to create an environment that encourages confidence and collaboration,” says Kristi Lee, Pearl Room’s owner and CEO.
“It’s a space where you can connect with other beauty professionals and the people that care about you.
The beauty industry needs a more open and accepting environment.”
The idea for Pearl Room first came to them in a conversation with an Asian beauty professional, who asked if they could help promote the salon’s products and offer them to their clients.
“When you come to an Asian salon, they might not know what to expect,” says Lee.
“But I think they’re really open and they’re passionate about their work.”
“We want to inspire the people in the industry to be more confident and to see the world through a different lens.”
As a result, the salon was able to establish a network of more than 40 Asian-American beauty professionals, who all work at the Pearl.
“There are so many Asian women in the world and we are the first in our community to do this,” says Kim, Pearl’s founder and executive director.
“People are looking for something to say they love their hair, they love what they wear and they love the culture of their culture.
We want to help people who are looking to go into the beauty world to understand the beauty of their heritage.”
The salon is now growing, with an even larger roster of Asian-Americans who have signed on as full-time employees.
In 2017, they expanded their services to include skin care, haircare and nail treatments, as well as a makeup department.
Lee is excited to be part of the Pearl’s mission to promote Asian- American beauty, “We are a community that celebrates the diversity and the beauty,” she says.
“Beauty is an opportunity for people of all races to be able to work together in a positive and collaborative way.
It’s not about you, it’s about the people.”
For Lee, it means working with a community of people who know their cultures and know their own story.
“They are people who live with a certain kind of experience and know that their culture is very unique,” she adds.
“So we can create a space for them to feel comfortable and have their culture represented.”
The team at Pearl has always been very welcoming and welcoming to all, but this year has been especially challenging for the owners and their team.
“Every day I wake up and feel like I have a responsibility to do something,” says Choi.
“My husband has been a part of my life since I was little and we’ve always wanted to work with the best people in our industry.
I’m very happy and grateful to have been able to be here.”