Today my excitement is on the next level because I get to chat with the beautiful Vanessa Grissom and Felicia Strong from NessFeli Natural Skincare, based right here in the Hudson Valley. I am this excited because skincare is such an obsession of mine. Spending money on products does not always guarantee quality so the search for good products has been a lifelong journey for me, and probably for you too. And when you find that amazing moisturizer or a serum, your heart will melt with joy and that smile on your face will jump out in an instant.
The best natural skincare products designed by Vanessa Grissom and Felicia Strong from NessFeli right here in the Hudson Valley, New York – Interview by Dino Alexander – Photography by Maxwell Alexander, Duncan Avenue Studios
Quality aside, these talented girls have created a brand and line of products to care for skin types beyond your standard dry, oily, and combination. The attention and efforts they have put in creating NessFeli will help people of color to experience products designed with their skin needs in mind. When we talk about skincare, the variation of pigmentation should be considered when choosing the right product and the unfortunate reality is that people with a skin color other than white are always overlooked and rarely considered in the development of most big brands skincare lines. But now we have NessFeli Natural Skincare and I can’t wait to share with your their story and some exciting things about the products.
Dino: Tell us how it all started? Why skincare? How did the idea about the brand name come together?
Vanessa: I have a total obsession with skincare! I would always purchase an insane amount of products and experiment with them. I also suffer from hyperpigmentation and oily acne-prone skin, so I would constantly be researching products and solutions. I always knew that I wanted to start a skincare line but would always put it on the back burner. 2020 was an eye-opener for me. Contracting COVID and just seeing everything that was happening in the world I knew it was time to stop procrastinating and follow through on my dream.
Felicia: With my career already being solidified in the beauty industry as a Hairstylist I heard and understood Vanessa’s vision and seen this as a great business opportunity to partner up and make something great.
Vanessa: We really struggled with deciding on a name. We wanted something different but something that would also represent us. We were definitely overthinking it. I literally one day just scribbled out our names and then decided to combine them. When I said it out loud it was like magic! Like yes! That’s it! NESSFELI!
Dino: Starting a business in 2020 might not have been an easy task but it’s definitely a testament to determination, dedication, and a strong will. What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome so far?
Vanessa: For me it was FEAR. Just fear of the unknown. Being an entrepreneur is so different, it’s a different world to me. I’m used to corporate 9-5. To be a new entrepreneur and opening a business during the pandemic was scary to me. I really had to just learn to put the fear aside and just do it. How long do you delay a dream? It was now or never.
Felicia: Honestly I felt like the time was perfect for us. My salon was shut down for almost 4 months. It allowed me to focus and concentrate on building the brand. It allowed me to understand and appreciate the difference between our individual work styles. I felt the momentum of being a woman but most importantly a woman of color to start or expand a business right NOW!
Dino: Developing an inclusive line of products that caters to people of color must be challenging. What did you find the most difficult part of the process?
Vanessa: Gaining trust. There isn’t a lot of representation of women of color in the skincare industry. We want to change this. We are capable of producing a premium quality product and we want the world to know this.
Felicia: We just feel that luxury or great quality should not have to equate to European-based products. So it’s about time that the beauty industry starts to recognize everyone and specifically black women and our contributions to the beauty industry as a whole.
Dino: What makes NessFeli the best natural skin care for everyone?
Vanessa: We care about putting out quality products! We test and use our own products! You’re not getting a marketing machine pushing mediocre products. You’re getting two women who put their time into developing quality products and testing each product to make sure they’re worthy of putting our names on them.
Felicia: You’re getting two women with completely different skin types and textures too.
Vanessa: In addition to having two owners that truly care, here are a few highlights of the products and how they’re made:
Our products are made of natural and organic-derived extracts and oils free of animal-derived ingredients (vegan). We use green, natural source emulsifiers and surfactants, and thickeners. We utilize frequent small batch manufacturing for optimal freshness, mineral and natural source colorants with a preference for wildcrafted and fair trade ingredients sourced from ethical suppliers.
Dino: Where can your customers find your products?
Vanessa: Our main shop is nessfeliskincare.com
Read the full interview in the September issue of Hudson Valley Style Magazine