Shen Beauty’s Covid-19 Build-Out

Shen Beauty has developed an international reputation over the past decade for innovative beauty and wellness products. Having outgrown its original Brooklyn home, Shen planned a move to a brand new store in Cobble Hill for 2020.

Jessica Richards, Shen’s founder and intrepid CEO, was hesitant to rely on her previous IT consultants for this critical project. “I needed it to be seamless, no hiccups,” she says. Richards needed a partner to “handle everything from walking through the space, cameras, security system, getting set up with Retail Next, and the internet situation.” On the basis of a recommendation from her design team at Mythology, Richards selected Macktez for a suite of infrastructure installations: data cabling, networking, security, cameras, and AV.

New Shen Beauty interior.
Photo by Brooke Holm.

Process

Macktez completed recommendations and project plans in January 2020. We worked closely with Richards and her architects and contractor to position wireless access points, speakers, and cameras where they would not interfere with the beautiful, clean layout of the store. In late February Macktez started on-site work, and had just finished roughing out low voltage cable on March 13. That’s when, in response to the growing Covid-19 pandemic, New York City shut down.

Richards pushed for new work permits as soon as they were available, and by the beginning of June Macktez was back on site with a whole new set of health and safety protocols. Temperatures were taken regularly, face masks were required at all times, and, with no air conditioning and several contractors working in the same space, everyone had to take considerable precautions to keep each other distanced and safe in what was still a highly volatile viral environment.

The schedule for build-out was a huge challenge. Staffing on site was reduced, and there were significant supply delays for the contractor. Construction, originally planned for five weeks, stretched to fourteen weeks as everyone involved figured out how to manage a detailed project under radically new working conditions. Richards says, “Macktez was able to smooth over the timing changes.”

Macktez’s finishing work was delayed and compressed to avoid the sawdust from all the millwork in the new store contaminating the equipment we were installing. “We planned for two weeks of testing,” says Macktez project lead Mike Gutmakher, “but we ended up having only two days.”

On the retail side, Richards had been hoping to have a month for setup and staff training on a new point of sale system before her September 1 opening day, but construction continued literally until the day customers walked in the door.

Results

In the end, through all the complications and anxiety surrounding working through the pandemic, Shen enjoyed a successful opening on September 1 that was featured in the New York Times (“You Can Open a Business in Pandemic New York,” October 11, 2020).

Macktez integrated UniFi network equipment and security cameras, Grandstream phones with an on-site Private Branch Exchange (PBX), Ring security, and Sonos audio components. Macktez Consultant Zack Lui, with a background in retail technology, provided Shopify training for Shen’s retail crew. Lauren Steinmeyer managed the network and technical development, supported by systems engineer Scott Battaglia. Lauren also provided on-site support for opening day. 

Mike says, “It became a very rewarding experience, working late, through the storm” with our installations team Mark Smolinski and Raymond Brown. 

“Everyone banded together,” says Richards, “to get this store open. We had a real sense of camaraderie.”