Thursday, July 25

Behind the closing of Shen Beauty, a Brooklyn boutique

Monica Dawidowicz, a beautician who worked at Shen from 2020 to 2023, also said Ms. Richards had a habit of yelling at employees. “Sometimes, literally, she would scream at the top of her lungs,” Ms. Dawidowicz said. Carrie Lindsey, another former employee, said working at Shen took a toll on her mental and physical health. “It’s difficult, because there were also good moments,” Ms. Lindsey said. “It’s a typical abusive relationship.”

Ms Richards did not comment on whether she had shouted at employees or used an offensive term.

Samson Smith said he enjoyed some of his time working on Shen. But he left after several years, because he, he said, he had “had enough”. He added that he had heard Ms. Richards refer derogatorily 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 seemed like he was saying it to test how I would respond,” he added.

Another employee, who spoke on 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 “has never shied away from hiring people of color or insulting someone for their race or size because to do so would go against everything I believe in, and my commitment to diversity and inclusion is supported by the numbers: the majority of my hand-picked hires were people of color, and the majority of our staff were people of color or part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Some employees described being touched inappropriately by a manager at work. Mr Smith said this manager had patted him on the bottom; Ms. Willson said the manager groped her breast. After employees complained to Ms. Richards, the manager was fired. But Ms. Richards ended up bringing the former manager back into the store.

Ms Richards acknowledged firing and rehiring the employee in question, adding: “My initial instincts were correct and I regret giving her a second chance.”