How Desiree Verdejo’s Skin Struggles Led Her to Create One of 2021’s Buzziest Brands

July 9, 2021
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Welcome to our monthly editorial series A Day in the Life where we ask women we admire to share the daily minutiae of their professional lives, from the morning rituals that set them up for success to their evening wind-down routines. This month, we talked with Desiree Verdejo, CEO and founder of Hyper Skin, about how she launched a skincare brand that’s rooted in multiculturalism, why she always tackles her hardest tasks first thing in the morning, and her favorite pandemic purchase (which still uses every day).

Tell us a bit about Hyper Skin and what inspired you to launch your business. What whitespace did you see in the market, and what need did you want to fill?

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve struggled with acne that was always followed by large dark spots. After years of trying to find the perfect solution to combat hyperpigmentation, I finally came to the realization that there really just wasn’t anything out there addressing this particular problem. 

On top of that, there has always been a major lack of diversity in the skincare and beauty space. As a woman of color, it didn’t take long for me to notice how little representation we have within the skincare market, from advertising to the formulation of products themselves. So many dermatologists and chemists receive little to no training on how to treat melanin-rich skin. 

I founded Hyper Skin because I wanted to solve both of these issues that I ran into by creating an easy, fun, results-oriented skincare brand that is rooted in multiculturalism. My goal is to not only target dark spots and discoloration but to do so for all skin tones and really shine a spotlight on celebrating diversity. 

Now, let’s talk about your workday routine! First, are you a night owl or a morning person? When do you do your most important work and why?

I’m definitely a morning person! When my schedule allows, I typically like to start my morning early and work on anything that is time-sensitive, challenging, or just requires more brainpower. Then, I will schedule any calls and meetings for the afternoon. 

In the evenings, I like to catch up on all of my emails and organize a to-do list for the next day. This way, I can go to bed knowing I have everything set for when I wake up in the morning without feeling too overwhelmed or stressed about figuring out what I need to do.

What time does your alarm go off, and what’s the first thing you do upon waking?

Actually, I don’t have an alarm clock! I naturally wake up at 6:30. Since I have two little toddlers that wake up at 7:30, I like to wake up before them so that I can have a peaceful morning with some time to myself. The first thing I do when I wake up is have coffee, listen to NPR, and take a look at my phone to make sure there’s nothing urgent that I have to take care of. My absolute favorite pandemic purchase was my Nespresso, so I love making my oat milk lattes right when I wake up—it’s my morning ritual!

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like?

In the mornings, before I start working, I love to spend quality time with my toddlers. Usually, that means making them breakfast and heading to school drop-off. My younger son is only two, so we usually walk together to a nearby coffee shop and I’ll get a coffee for myself and a treat for him! I really value these little moments of time together—they are both growing up so fast so I want to spend every moment I can with them.

Take us through your morning skincare routine. How do you prepare your skin for the day? 

My skincare routine is by far my favorite part of the morning. It’s another reason that I actually enjoy waking up early and having enough time to really care for my skin. I have oily skin, so I always start by cleansing. My skin is acne-prone and susceptible to dark spots, so after cleansing, I follow up with the Hyper Skin Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum to combat hyperpigmentation. I love face mists. Right now I’m using one by Tower 28 that I really like. The last two steps in my routine are using a lightweight moisturizer and always using sunscreen. A couple of my all-time favorites are the Unseen Sunscreen from Supergoop and the Everyday Humans sunscreen

Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?

I always complete the hardest task of the day when I get to my desk first thing in the morning, so I completely agree with this quote. I think what sets me up for the most success in the morning is making my to-do list for the next day in the evening. If there is a task that is really important or challenging, I’ll send an email to myself so that I see it fresh in my inbox in the morning and it’s a great reminder to jump right in. I think the key to avoiding feeling overwhelmed and stressed out is always thinking one step ahead and preparing for the future.

What are you working on this week?

We have a few new exciting launches that are coming up so my weeks have been filled with reviewing and signing off on proofs, working with the team on developing social concepts for the launches, managing operations, and just overseeing everything regarding launch preparation. We’re really leaning into using our social media platforms to share the Hyper Skin story so it’s been a lot of brainstorming and creating as a team.

What’s been the most rewarding part of running your business? The most challenging?

Creating something that our community tells us really works for them has definitely been the most rewarding part. That doesn’t ever get old. As someone who has always had problem skin and has constantly been on the lookout for solutions, reading reviews and getting emails from customers will always be something that I look forward to. It’s so motivating, and it really pushes me to always create at the highest level. 

On the other hand, the most challenging aspect of running a business is that you always have to keep going. There’s no time to stop to say, “This sucks,” or, “Wow, we’ve accomplished so much!” It’s always like, “Okay, now what do we have to do next?” As a founder leading a small team, there’s no time to sit in the emotions, in the challenges, or in the wins. You just need to keep pushing forward and doing your best. 

Do you ever reach inbox zero? What tips can you share for handling the constant influx of inquiries and communication entrepreneurs are so familiar with?

I never have and I don’t think I ever will—it’s not even a goal of mine anymore because it’s so unattainable! As for tips on handling the constant inquiries and communication with others, I think it’s important to prioritize your day on what’s most important to you and what you need to get done next. If you are always responding to what other people are asking of you, you’ll never be able to meet your own goals.

What is your go-to work lunch?

My go-to work lunch is always changing. One benefit of the pandemic was that I had more time at home to cook really wonderful, nourishing, and balanced meals. However, now that I have gone back to working in a co-working space, I am trying to find the balance between continuing to cook for myself and eating meals on the go. Simplicity is key. My favorite go-to meal is chicken with cauliflower rice and lots of fresh veggies.

What advice do you have for balancing the minutiae of day-to-day tasks with big-picture planning?

My biggest tip or piece of advice is to do different types of tasks on different days. For example, I like to plan certain days for all of my calls and set aside other days of the week for other things that I need to accomplish. Every week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are my call/catch-up days. Monday and Friday are big-picture, ideating, and thinking days. Without a schedule like this, you can spend all day responding to people, but it doesn’t give you time to think about marketing, strategy, or business plans on a larger, more creative scale. 

What are some work habits that help you stay healthy, productive, and on track to reach your goals?

My number one reminder to myself that helps me stay healthy, happy, and productive is just to not overdo it. Don’t drive yourself crazy by focusing on all of the tasks or things that you didn’t do or aren’t able to do at that moment in time. As a founder of a new, emerging brand, I’m in a very busy stage of my life. I’ve taught myself to lean into that, but at the same time, I’m always making sure that I’m not overdoing it. I just remind myself that I’m in a busy season now, but it won’t be busy forever. 

Any favorite apps you use regularly?

I love Slack for communicating with my team on a daily basis. Instagram is another favorite of mine because of how much it allows me to connect to the rest of the world and all of the new concepts and ideas that are out there. Another app I love is the HomeExchange app; it fuels my wanderlust!

What are you reading, watching, or listening to right now to help you wind down at the end of the day?

When I’m in a really busy stage of life (like right now!), I’m not great at watching TV because it draws me in deeply for too long. Instead, right now I’m planning our first post-pandemic family vacation to Costa Rica, so my favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day is by scrolling through Instagram and different chat groups to help me plan for that and get excited about our trip. It really helps me unwind!

When do you go to bed? What’s your “optimal” number of sleep hours?

I usually like to go to bed around 11:00 pm. I always try to aim for 6-7 hours. If I’m able to get in seven hours of sleep I am a wonderful person, but that doesn’t always happen!

What’s the most rewarding part of your day?

Because I launched my business right before the pandemic, I ended up hiring every member of our team remotely, and they’re all planning to stay remote for a while. That being said, the most rewarding part of my day is whenever I get to interact with my team via Zoom. I love to chat with them and share ideas and hear their updates. Most people are complaining about Zooms these days, but they’re my favorite!

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