Pre-covid, The Caravan Stylist Studio in New York City was a bustling one-stop shop for wardrobe, hair and makeup services for actresses, influencers and musicians. Actors from shows like Orange is the New Black, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Affair, Blacklist and Jane the Virgin all frequented the studio. It also served as the perfect location for media events as it is centrally located inside The Gregory Hotel in midtown.
I know this all too well because about six years ago, when an old, batshit beauty client of mine that I will not name (but the company does rhyme with Scaby Foot) gave me three full days to put together an in-person media event for 75 beauty editors and influencers, Claudine DeSola, the Caravan's owner, came to my rescue. With a small budget and mere hours to plan anything, DeSola made me look like a superstar in front of the brand owners who flew in from Japan to observe and critique my production.
From then on, whenever work brought me back east, I'd always drop by the Caravan to see what Claudine was up to. With the current state of the world, work hasn't taken me further than my home office, and it has also put a halt on any in-person events at the Caravan.
In the beginning of 2020, DeSola and her business partner, public relation's professional Janine Just, pooled their years of experience creating in-person branded events and producing photoshoots to take Caravan to the next level. Caravan was to become a fully-running Content Studio. If you're a brand owner, a designer, or an artist, and you need video and photo assets, Caravan Studio would hook you up. That was the idea, at least. Obviously, the world had other plans, but that didn't stop DeSola and Just from pivoting.
Instead of providing clients with content-creating services at their physical studio, they're now providing it to them virtually, renaming the studio the Caravan Social Club. Through Zoom interviews and photo shoots conducted by professional photographers via computer screens, DeSola and Just are busier than ever.
"We photographed 63 Content Creators in 2 days, virtual road-trippin’ to all 50 states," says DeSola. "We simply could not manage that with an in-person experience. [This virtual model] is allowing us to further our reach outside the NY area and our studio bubble. What we found through all of this is a silver lining We’re able to span across the country and work with so many creatives and content creators in literally hours."
So far, their clients have really enjoyed the authentic and unique approach to content creation. Says Just: “Our virtual photoshoots have proven to not only be an uplifting experience but are also giving many the opportunity to create and have a platform to share their stories and what they’re working on all while connecting to a community of resourceful members who are looking to collaborate and work together."
While these virtual photoshoots don't provide the crisp in-studio photography you receive with proper lighting, hair, makeup, and wardrobe, there is something genuine and positive about capturing these creators in their own space remotely where we're still able to share their work and inspire others.
The following seven beauty entrepreneurs are just a handful of the talented creators DeSola and Just have been able to shine a virtual spotlight on. All photography is done by Bella Picicci. To view video coverage, visit Caravan Social Club's IGTV.
Desiree Verdejo is the founder of Hyper Clear skincare. Desiree is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur interested in meeting the personal care needs of POC. She has always considered herself skincare-obsessed and after experiencing her own struggles with acne while pregnant with her first child, she noticed there weren’t enough products on the market that rectified issues like hyperpigmentation, under eye circles, and acne. That’s when she decided to create her own! Desiree believes that regret is heavy baggage to deal with so her favorite, not so poetic quote is "Just do it!"
Suzanne Roberta, the founder of Adesse New York, is a passionate entrepreneur who loves combining advanced science with pure, high performance ingredients to create clean, luxurious skin care for nails. Adesse New York products are 12 Free, Vegan, Cruelty Free Nail Care, Nail Color, Lip Care and Lip Color. Suzanne’s favorite quote? “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected” by Steve Jobs. For Suzanne, knowing that she is giving her customers the best, highest quality and most efficacious products is what is most important. Suzanne is currently listening to Gypsy Kings, watching Made in Heaven and reading The Financial Times.
Shalini Vadhera is an award-winning global beauty entrepreneur and women’s empowerment advocate. She’s the best-selling author of Passport To Beauty and winner of the Mahatma Gandhi Award for her work in leadership and women’s empowerment.
With her newest beauty brand, The Ready Set Jet Beauty Baton collection, Vadhera brings women of all skin tones products and tips that give them the tools to live their best life, and part of the proceeds go to train disenfranchised girls in the beauty industry. She feels that success comes from kindness, integrity, and creating a space for women to come together and thrive!
Alicia Zalka, MD is the founder and CEO of Surface Deep Anti-Odorant. Vegan, chemical free, and biodegradable, her anti-odorant pads are a first to market daily odor preventing cleansing pad that replaces traditional sticky, residue laden deodorants. Alicia spent 25 years practicing as a board certified dermatologist, inventor, lover of nature and champion of kindness. Also, Alicia is a Yale University Clinical Professor. In order to achieve great success, Alicia believes that giving back and stewardship of our planet are the ways forward.
Drawing on her start-up experience with The Honest Company and Dollar Shave Club, Native New Yorker Irene Kong co-founded and launched MANTL earlier this year. Her inspiration? The balding journey of Netflix's Queer Eye Karamo Brown, who is also part of the company along with Peter Ricci. Mantl products for the face and scalp are made from naturally-derived ingredients and are dermatologist-tested. MANTL aims to propel the psycho-dermatology trend; prioritizing mental health as much as physical health. Irene’s advice for others is to never make yourself feel smaller in order to make others feel comfortable. Success is different for everyone, and there will always be more milestones to achieve. It is most important to be happy with yourself and the work you have completed.
Bronx-bred Adassa Ramirez, the founder of MicMas Remix hair care products, turned her passion for natural hair care oil formulations into a successful business. As a Latina of predominant African descent, she Adassa was well aware of the under representation and stigmas placed on having certain hair types. MicMas ReMix aim is to provide great quality hair oil products and supportive guidance to better care for coarse and coily tresses whether it's natural, relaxed or dreadlocked. Adassa currently lives in Puerto Rico where she contributes her time to community work and activism.
Pam Trice created TressOrganix, an all-natural product line designed to revitalize damaged hair strands into stronger, longer tresses. When Pam’s daughter, Kassidy experienced a dramatic hair loss after heat damage and harmful chemical treatments, Pam was determined to find an organic solution to repair Kassidy’s hair back to its desirable state. Pam soon discovered that the key to restoring Kassidy’s hair started at the root. After extensive research and testing, Pam decided to formulate a premium product line of high-intensive hydrating hair creams, conditioners and moisturizers to enrich, enhance and restore the damaged strands of not only her own daughter but other women who struggled with hair loss. Pam offers the following words of advice - Sacrifice, have ambition, vision and a purpose. We must remember being persistent with steadiness wins the race.