It’s not easy being a master of all trades—but that doesn’t stop us from trying. To help you in the ever-ongoing pursuit of thriving in your career, your personal life, and beyond, we’re debuting a new series called Keep It 100 in partnership with Dole Packaged Foods. Previously we shared how a musician turned her passion into a thriving business. This week, watch the story of an aesthetician turning an e-commerce site into a K-beauty empire.
When 20-something Charlotte Cho explained the mission statement and vision of her new startup, an e-commerce Korean-beauty site called Soko Glam, in 2012, there was talk of more than just sales conversions and traffic goals. There was talk of a movement. “My mission is for everyone in the States to know about K-beauty and see Korean beauty products sold nationwide—even if it’s competitive to Soko Glam—and start a Korean cultural movement in America,” Cho told us.
Delivered without the batting of an eye, a pause for breath, or even a slight hesitation, Cho’s goals seemed lofty, massively out of her control, and perhaps a smidge naïve. Cut to 2017, and Korean beauty clearly isn’t a fleeting fad for the skincare obsessed but a full-blown phenomenon, now part of the cultural zeitgeist of everyday women who want to improve their skin. And, lo and behold, obscure Korean beauty brands are now sold in aisles at national big-box retailers alongside U.S.-based staples. It’s safe to say that Cho, now 31, has achieved those goals, turning herself from a beauty maven into a successful e-commerce entrepreneur, author, and editor of media site The Klog. But her success didn’t happen overnight.
In fact, just as she began gaining market share, Korean beauty awareness started spreading. Competitors in the space started cropping up, with a similar premise: curated Korean beauty products for less. To maintain her edge, Cho decided she needed to really understand what she was selling, so she started attending night school to become a licensed aesthetician. For Cho and her co-founder (and husband), Dave Cho, the first few years of business were spent at the office—the pair left only to eat, sleep, study, and perhaps squeeze in a morning jog.
Her mission paid off, thanks to her near-fanatical approach that involved having her passion fuel her business, and there’s no sign of Cho slowing down anytime soon. (Proof: She recently collaborated with Korean brand COSRX to create her own serum.) Given that now we can comfortably say that SokoGlam helped trigger the national K-beauty phenomenon, in retrospect, it looks like her 2012 mission was not naïve but truly visionary.
Above, watch Cho share how she manages to Keep It 100 as she continues to balance her passion with her many business pursuits.