Even if you never know what K-magnificence — limited for Korean beauty — is, chances are, you have viewed the jade rollers, sheet masks and snail mucin lotions promising radiant, mirror-like skin on your Instagram feed or the cabinets of your area drugstore.
Considering the fact that its introduction to U.S. marketplaces in 2011, K-natural beauty has develop into a mainstay of the world wide natural beauty marketplace, and it appears that people’s obsession with it would not fade at any time quickly: By 2029, the international K-magnificence solutions market place is projected to access about $31.6 billion in product sales, according to Prophecy Sector Insights, a marketplace analysis agency.
Just one of the makes foremost the Korean pores and skin-care motion is Glow Recipe. Its founders and co-CEOs, Christine Chang and Sarah Lee initially established Glow Recipe in 2014 as a curation of other K-elegance merchandise imported from Seoul to aid lesser brands start in the U.S., then started off their individual in-residence pores and skin-care line 3 decades afterwards.
Now, Glow Recipe is a single of the buzziest models in skin treatment, closing out 2021 with an estimated $100 million in sales. CNBC Make It spoke with Chang and Lee about quitting their work to chase their dreams and how their Korean heritage conjures up everything they do at Glow Recipe, from ingredient lists to advocacy.
Chang and Lee’s relationship started out as lots of excellent kinds do: bonding around food.
The pair initial fulfilled as new workforce at L’Oréal Korea in 2005. “I remember going out to try to eat with our co-personnel to a Korean barbeque restaurant a person night and noticing that Christine was really enjoying her meal,” Lee recollects. “We promptly linked around our enthusiasm for Korean barbeque, but that sparked added conversations about our love of K-magnificence and our families.”
Just a couple of decades later on, the two Chang and Lee ended up transferred to L’Oréal’s New York place of work. They could usually be discovered right after work sprawled on the floor of Lee’s condominium, decompressing with sheet masks and glasses of wine.
It was throughout just one of these late-night time discussions that Chang and Lee, who equally establish as Korean Americans, understood they were being the only bicultural, bilingual executives on their teams at L’Oréal. As world marketers, Chang and Lee have been fascinated by Korean pores and skin-care innovation and predicted it would grow to be “the next significant factor” in the U.S., Lee remembers.
“We felt like it was our mission to bring these amazing K-splendor systems stateside,” she adds. The pair give up their work in 2014 and pooled $50,000 in savings to start Glow Recipe, a title encouraged by the menu of companies they’d see at Korean spas or dermatologist workplaces that would present diverse “glows” for clients’ skin these types of as “drinking water glow” or “honey glow.”
Whilst Glow Recipe now has 40 staff members, Chang and Lee glance back again fondly on the days when the brand name was a two-lady procedure.
“When it will come to entrepreneurship, you truly do have to be your personal legal assist, accounting and designer crew, all of these competencies that we failed to have exposure to when we ended up at L’Oréal,” Chang states. “We like to joke that Google was generally on speed dial.”
Chang and Lee rapidly understood the benefit in asking for enable. “Even if you happen to be being scrappy and bootstrapped, it really is sensible to outsource a law firm or an accountant to enable you expand your organization,” she provides. “Every single entrepreneur has to determine out what they are greatest at and what their time should really be invested on, and for us, that was product or service improvement.”
A core childhood memory Chang and Lee share is investing the scorching summer time months in South Korea actively playing exterior, and their grandmothers rubbing refreshing watermelon rinds on their sunburnt skin.
Watermelon is one particular of Korea’s most well-liked fruits and is a common heal-all for relaxing dry, irritated skin. It really is also the critical component in Glow Recipe’s 1st product or service, the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, which, in accordance to the founders, took around a thousand formulations to excellent and has sold out seven consecutive occasions.
Although watermelon was the star fruit of Glow Recipe’s preliminary launch, its skin-treatment collection now involves strawberry and plum-dependent serums, avocado eye lotions and more. All fruit concentrates are mixed with energetic ingredients like vitamin c, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help obvious and brighten skin.
Rising up in South Korea, Chang and Lee usually viewed as skin care to be a luxurious deal with, watching their moms and grandmothers pamper by themselves ahead of bed. In the U.S., having said that, skin care has frequently been observed as a “chore,” Chang claims, “some thing you have to slog as a result of to get to makeup, which was the pleasurable component.”
With Glow Recipe, Chang and Lee set out to elevate skin care from a chore to a pampering ritual, employing brilliant packaging and sensorial, bouncy textures.
“We are amazingly blessed to have our get the job done tie closely to our [Korean] heritage,” Chang says. “To see K-natural beauty trickle down into every single single medicine cabinet and splendor bag has been amazing, and where by we often considered it should really go.”
Glow Recipe’s Instagram just isn’t just a colourful grid of product tutorials and sunlit selfies — it really is also a location where by its a single million followers can uncover information on other AAPI-owned models and businesses responding to the modern surge of despise crimes focusing on the AAPI local community.
Chang and Lee have personally experienced racism through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At a single place, a person in the center of the avenue screamed, ‘Go again to China! Chinese virus!’ to my partner, my daughter and me,” Chang wrote in a February 2021 weblog publish. “At any time considering the fact that then, and looking at that people today were being averting her, my daughter refused to depart the residence without having her umbrella, which gave her a perception of protection.”
Lee shared a related incident, noting that a few months right after her naturalization ceremony in 2020, a pair going for walks by her in the road yelled “Corona” to her face, “and walked aw
ay laughing loudly.”
“I had a tough time understanding what occurred in the moment,” she wrote in the similar site article. “Had I accomplished a thing improper? Was I that unique from them? Why have been they attacking me, specifically?”
Chang and Lee view advocacy as a critical facet of Glow Recipe’s mission, aligned with their values of range, inclusion and empowerment.
“We are fortuitous to have a system which is large sufficient where we can enable elevate consciousness for these vital challenges,” Chang states. “I consider our group appreciates that when detest crimes are on the increase for case in point, we are not just likely to discuss about elegance items — these concerns are best of intellect for us, as well.”
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