Interview With Vanessa Howard Grissom and Felicia Michelle, Owners of NessFeli Natural Skincare
Vanessa Howard Grissom and Felicia Michelle are the owners of NessFeli Natural Skincare LLC. The products and services provided include wellness, skincare, apparel, accessories, and more.
Born and raised in Harlem, NY Vanessa is a Health/Wellness Coach, a married mother of three, and a Managing Director for a health care staffing firm. Her experience with her own hyperpigmented skin led her to research diet, gut health, and buying products to relieve oily acne-prone skin. By doing this, her vision to start her own skincare line became clearer. “I wanted to use innovative natural ingredients in my line and provide products that could work with all skin types. I was able to work side by side with a lab that could help me produce natural products that are free of animal-derived ingredients.”
Entrepreneur and Hair Stylist, Felicia Michelle was born and raised in Stamford CT. Felicia Michelle initially started her professional career in the corporate sector as a CPA recruiter. When the market crashed in 2008, she seized the opportunity to pursue her true love for the beauty industry. With 10 years+ of styling experience along with a strong passion for the industry, NessFeli Natural Skincare became a brand.
We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Vanessa and Felicia.
What inspired you to create your business, where are you located, and how did you come up with the name?
Our business is based out of Newburgh, New York.
It’s so funny you ask that, we struggled, in the beginning, trying to find a name that could represent us both but not sound too clique. After hitting a wall for about a week or two we decided to combine our names. Ness comes from Vanessa and Feli from Felicia. As soon as we heard it and wrote it down we knew this was the perfect name.
Vanessa- I have always been obsessed with skincare products. I suffer from problematic skin and was always looking for new products to try. I also have very sensitive skin so I was always mindful of what I put on my skin. I have always had the thought in the back of my mind of starting a skincare company but didn’t know where to start. I also work full time as a Managing Director for a Healthcare staffing firm so I knew it would be super challenging to start this line while maintaining the demands of my corporate job. I mentioned to Felicia that this is something I would be interested in doing, making a skincare line with natural ingredients and she would always say it sounds like a great idea and she would love to be a partner if I decided to do it.
Felicia- Having a foot in the beauty industry as a hairstylist, paired with my observation that there is limited representation of women of color owning and operating a luxury skincare line; strongly reassured me that this was the perfect time and opportunity to make our mark in this European dominated industry.
Vanessa- It’s crazy to say but this but COVID gave me the push to move forward with this dream and make it a reality. I got really sick in 2020 from COVID and all I could think about was everything I wanted to do if and when I got better! Let’s just say starting this skincare line was at the top of the list!
Felicia- With Salons across the country being completely shut down, this allowed for me to fully invest my time and energy into pursuing another business endeavor that coincidentally I’m passionate about.
What are the services and products you highly recommend this season?
When it comes to skincare, knowing your skin type is always the first recommendation a visit to an Esthetician can help with that. The great thing about our line is we’ve tried to create products for every skin type.
Vanessa- My favorite product for this time of the year would be the Vitamin C Serum. I apply day and night under my moisturizer to help protect my skin from free radicals and environmental pollution. I will be 50 in July so I’m anything anti-aging.
Felicia- My favorite product this time of year would have to be our Acai Creme Cleaner and Vitamin C Serum due to the extremely dry weather in the Metropolitan area, these two products to keep my dry skin moisturized during winter months.
How has business been for you during the pandemic?
The fact that most small businesses, specifically minority-owned businesses were facing bankruptcy and closure and we were able to successfully launch a luxury skincare line and maintain consistent sales has been a blessing. We are truly thankful because we had no clue what to expect!
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
Felicia- The flexibility, I am in control of how I spend my time. Being able to show my daughters that it is possible to be a brown girl and a successful business owner.
Vanessa- I concur with Felicia, I didn’t come from a family of entrepreneurs and it is just amazing to have my children see this business come to fruition! I really love everything about being an entrepreneur, the ups and the downs. You’re constantly learning and growing!
What do you hope for yourself and your business in 2022?
We would like to have our products featured in spas throughout the US. We’re so thankful to currently have some of our products in Hudson Valley Beauty Lab & Medi Spa in Newburgh, NY.
What word of advice can you leave our readers about skincare?
Knowing your skin type! Skincare is not one size fits all. When you know your skin type it makes it a lot easier to identify the best product for you.
What else would you like our readers to know about you?
We are a small black women-owned family business. Vanessa was born and raised in Harlem and is a Married mom of 4. Felicia was born and raised in Stamford, CT is a Married (to Vanessa’s brother), and a mom of 2.
We are very passionate about the representation of women of color in an industry that has not always allowed for us to be seen. We pride ourselves on producing a full luxury line of skincare products that are inclusive to all skin types. We hope to see our products in your nearest Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue someday soon.
Learn more by visiting https://www.
Photo Credit: @wakeupfresco