Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam and founder of Then I Met You, was one of the first providers of K-Beauty in the United States. But nearly nine years after the launch of the Soko Glam ecommerce platform, she recognizes that the category has changed dramatically. .
“Korean beauty has never been about a product, a category or even a brand. It is a philosophy of the skin first. It really helped introduce skin care as a time of self-care. It was about general innovation in general; it has helped push the boundaries of the beauty industry to innovate, ”Cho said on the most recent episode of the Glossy Beauty podcast.
While there have been rumors that K-beauty has reached a plateau, with Innisfree’s recent store closings in the United States, Canada and China, Cho disputes this point.
“Maybe you don’t see the K-beauty trends showing up in the media, because honestly the industry and the brands have taken a lead and started producing and manufacturing a lot of their products in Korea,” she declared.
And while some of Cho K-beauty’s original peers – think Glow Recipe, Memebox, and Peach & Lily – have made the switch from curation to branded products, Cho has made it clear that curation will always be a part of history. its founder, even with the addition of her skincare brand, Then I Met You, which will launch at Cult Beauty this week.
“I’m really excited to showcase Korean brands and innovations through Soko Glam and provide a platform for exciting new independent brands. I think people in our community really trust us and want to hear about our goal – a K-beauty goal but ultimately a quality skin care goal… That will never change ”, a- she declared.
Below are additional conversation highlights, which have been edited slightly for clarity.
A mix of curation and branded products
“I will never give up Soko Glam curation. We like to work with our partners, our brands; we have a very good relationship with them. We really want to continue to grow this curation. As a retailer, we think we’re good at what we do, to be honest, and it’s not easy. It is not easy to manage over 40 brands and grow each year, and constantly seek and research innovations [to] help educate and share these brand stories. There is a huge and amazing team behind me and Dave [Cho, my husband and Soko Glam co-founder and CEO] that should really be the credit for our growth year on year. But also, we were able to stabilize this part of the business to such an extent that we also have time for Then I Met You, which is my own skin care line, and which is growing rapidly as well. And then we also have other private brands like Klog and Good Skin Days which are also growing rapidly. We have the best of both worlds.
Allow each brand to have its own identity
“The reason we didn’t start with a Soko Glam brand is that I wanted Soko Glam to be stand-alone. I wanted my own line [Then I Met You] to stand on his own two feet, too. Although Then I Met You is currently sold on Soko Glam, for the first full year it was only on its own DTC site. We haven’t taken advantage of the Soko Glam platform, which has millions of people shopping and wanting to learn more about skin care. We set him aside, which was a tough, tough challenge. It was an uphill battle because we weren’t really using our assets, which is a huge rabid skin care community. We wanted Then I Met You to have its own unique brand story. Jeong is a big part of the brand – jeong [is] a Korean word that describes a deep and emotional connection. This story is so big in itself that we really had to separate it from Soko Glam, in order to tell this story. I am happy to say that after one year talking about jeong and the effectiveness of our products and the quality of our products, he [has] its own community on its own. He stands on his own two feet, and there is a distinction between the two.
A first digital experience on brick and mortar
“To be honest, as a member of K-beauty for nine years, when I first heard of [Innisfree] expanding into many physical stores in the United States – that was many years ago, before the pandemic, four or five years ago – I thought that was a bad idea, to begin with. I knew that, ultimately, that probably [wouldn’t] be a successful business model – placing their brand in malls, for example. Even their expansion in China [via stores] was aggressive; I never thought – as a person who understands digital trends, the digital space – that [that] was probably going to work out for them. We have already seen the first signs in Korea, where bricks and mortar were not doing well for many brands, simply because the way consumers shop has changed completely… But they have been successful in the past. with brick and mortar, and I think they’re trying to replicate that without seeing the future ahead of them. So when I see news that they are closing their doors, I don’t think, “Oh my God, K-beauty is in decline.” I think, ‘It was a contingency, and it just comes at a time when K-beauty has been around for a while as well. I think there are many industries and many brands that have closed their doors and their brick and mortar in so many different industries. “