You probably first heard of Stephanie Suganami Shepherd – known as "Steph Shep" for short, and to her many social media followers — because of her proximity to the Kardashians. (She served as chief operating officer of Kardashian West Brands until 2018.) But the environmental advocate and entrepreneur has been diving into her own projects in the years since, most recently setting her sights on fostering a more mindful beauty industry and educating the public about the realities of climate change.
Shepherd serves as the chief impact officer of Plus, a biodegradable body wash brand, and is also the co-founder of climate education platform Future Earth. In July, she forayed further into beauty, collaborating with direct-to-consumer fragrance company Snif on a genderless fragrance housed in 100% compostable packaging. The scent, titled 'Suganami' after Shepherd's Japanese last name, melds natural and woody scents along with cypress and bright spices.
Shepherd is someone who takes perfume seriously: "If I'm starting to walk out the door and I'm like, 'oh no, I forgot my fragrance,' I will be late and go back to make sure that I have my fragrance on," she told Fashionista in a recent interview. "I do feel like it's kind of that little cherry on top of the whole hair, skin and nails. It's nice to top everything off with a great fragrance."
Suganami may be Shepherd's current signature scent, but it comes after a long history of perfume-hopping, particularly after breakups. Shepherd discussed that topic, as well as her entire beauty routine — including her favorite SKKN By Kim product, the hair tool she considers a "game changer" and the scents she finds most nostalgic — with Fashionista. Read on for the highlights of our conversation.
What types of scents are you typically drawn to?
Let me start by saying, I am very specific about fragrance. Since I was a kid, I've always had a sensitivity to fragrance. I have this weird thing where if I smell someone, I have to know the fragrance they're wearing. For example, one of my girlfriends, Dani Michelle, always wears this one perfume and it just smells like her, so I know it's her.
When I look for a fragrance, I look for something that's subtle and classic. Honestly, I typically go for a cologne. I don't think that fragrance needs to be specific to someone's gender identity, and that's why I was really excited to do this collaboration with Snif. It's a very outdated concept that perfume is for women and cologne is for men. We wanted to make a genderless scent that anyone could like and wear at any time, and I think we really accomplished that with Suganami.
What inspired the notes you chose for Suganami?
Fragrance has had such a powerful hold on my memories and the people that I love, and it can really bring you back to a snapshot of your life. With Suganami, I really wanted to encapsulate a specific period of my mid-20s when it was a lighter time. I don't know if I wasn't as stressed or if I didn't have as many adult responsibilities, but I was kind of just in that sweet spot of my 20s and I was having a great time.
There was this chapter of my life where my friends and I would go to Paris Fashion Week and just have the best time without a care in the world (and without judgment from social media). We'd run through the streets at one or two in the morning. Those were some of the best times in my life, and there are different types of scents that take me back to that place. I really wanted to hone in on that time in my life and create something that took me back there.
Is there a scent that feels nostalgic to you from growing up?
Yes, it's so funny: One is the Jergens Cherry Almond scented moisturizer. It takes me back to my childhood immediately and I still actually really love that smell for hand soap. I also really love the Lip Smackers Cappuccino lip gloss. It was this milky brown, very early 2000s and '90s color that was just such a specific scent that I could just eat. And then, probably my mom's perfume. She would wear Armani Acqua di Gio, and that scent just touches my heart.
What is your daytime skin-care routine like?
I feel like I found a real sweet spot right now with the products that I'm using. I'm such a beauty junkie, so I am constantly finding new things, but I'm in a good place right now. Right now I wash my face using the Peach and Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser, then I'll go in with the SK II Essence. I follow that with the Glass Skin by Peach and Lily and the CosRx Cica Serum (which has changed my life).
I also do a cream, like the SKKN Face Cream, which I really love. Lastly, I will finish with Vintner's Daughter Botanical Face Oil – it's so good for summer. I don't wear makeup every day, but if you're a makeup wearer, put this on before your foundation and your makeup will just melt into your face and look so dewy. That's what I'm doing right now and it's working for me.
Even though you don't wear makeup every day, is there one makeup product that you can't leave the house without?
If I do anything, it would probably be a touch of concealer. If I have a blemish I'll do the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat concealer, which is super light. Mostly, I love using my Vintner's Daughter Botanical Face Oil or the Rhode Peptide Glazing Fluid for a glow-y, natural look. Then, I'll top it off with a glossy lip using either the Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss or the Merit lip oil gloss.
What does your hair routine look like?
Oh my God, I am the worst at hair and I have the most hair! I just recently purchased a Dyson Airwrap and I've got to say, it's a game-changer. I typically just put my hair in a little French twist or braid when it's wet and call it a day, but I've found that the Airwrap is so easy to use and it looks like I just got a blowout.
Does your skin-care routine change at night?
I'll [add in] the CosRx eye cream. At night is when I'll bust the tools out and try to get fancy. If I have time and I'm really self-indulgent, I'll do time under my Celluma Pro red light. So I'll lay under that for around 15 minutes and it even helps me fall asleep.
How do you practice being environmentally conscious in your beauty routine, given that sustainability is so important to you?
It's really important to me to shop with brands that align with my personal values. There has been a real shift in the beauty and personal care industry, so there are definitely brands out there, especially smaller brands, that are able to start, from their foundation, with a sustainable ethos. I think it's really important to support those types of companies and I definitely prioritize that. I also try and prioritize shopping from small, Asian-founded, K-beauty, J-beauty and female-founded brands.
Do you have any beauty secrets people might not know about you?
Oddly enough, I used to always change my personal fragrance when I would get a new boyfriend. I don't know if anyone else does that, but I just couldn't keep wearing the same fragrance (after a breakup)...some girls cut their hair; I would change a fragrance and start anew. A new evolution, with a new fragrance, and a new vibe.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
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