Earlier this year, celebrity facialist, Shani Darden, was gearing up for her namesake brand’s biggest retail expansion – a launch within Sephora. The brand, which is available at Net-a-Porter, Cult Beauty and Violet Grey, as well as its own ecommerce site, was set to debut on Sephora.com and Sephora.ca on March 17 as well as in stores on April 9. However, in-store launch plans were abruptly halted as national lockdown orders forced retailers to close their doors.

“This was a dream come true and days before we were set to have a launch party, everything shut down,” explained Shani. “It was a stressful time because I was concerned about how I was going to get the support of the people I needed to push my brand at Sephora, and also talking about a new launch during such a sensitive time.”

The March online plans moved forward and Shani saw her line outperform expectations. The brand’s five-item collection, which features a cleansing serum ($38), toning essence ($52), oil free moisturizer ($48), texture reform serum ($88), and hero SKU retinol reform ($88), sold out in just over a month. The retinol serum, which already has a cult following, garnered a 5,000-plus waitlist.

Since the pandemic, she said the brand’s overall sales have doubled. Shani credits success to the strong support of Sephora, as well as her educational videos, which consumers are finding helpful as they lean into self-care rituals.

“I devote a lot of time to giving facials in my Beverly Hills office and had it not been for the pandemic, I probably would not have been spending so much time at home, which forced me to create informational social media content,” she said. Shani filmed several videos teaching consumers about how to use the right products for their skin type, the importance of sunscreen and retinol, summer skin care tips and more. She also began partnering with Sephora on Instagram Live videos.

“I’m constantly wanting to do more on social media, because people now have the time to focus on learning about skin care and are following through with full routines since they no longer have to rush around,” she said.

In early August, Shani Darden Skin Care began rolling out to select U.S. Sephora locations and will be available in all doors by October.

“Sephora is the ultimate skin care authority and has been at the forefront of supporting female founder-led brands, which is very important to me as a half-Black, female-founder myself. I am so honored to be part of the Sephora family and bring my products to people across the U.S.,” said Shani.