Following 20 years of experience in the beauty industry as L’Oreal executives in Korea and the U.S., Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, launched Glow Recipe in 2014, with the goal to create a one-stop destination site that made vetted K-beauty products and trends accessible to women around the world.
How did it all start? Where did you meet each other? What was the pivotal point to create the start-up?
Sarah Lee: Christine and I were friends through working at L’Oreal and we ended up working at the New York office at the same time. 5 years ago, we were de-stressing over wine and sheet masks when we realised that we were both working on projects inspired by Korean beauty technologies.
As the only two employees at L’Oreal that had experience in both the US and Korean markets, we knew that we’d be able to leverage our combined 20 years of bi-cultural beauty industry experience to create a successful company. With this experience, we were uniquely qualified to identify great trends and pair them with content and education for all women to understand.
The beauty industry is becoming bigger and bigger, with new brands popping up everywhere with very regular launches. What was the deciding factor to start a product line in a saturated market?
Christine Chang: With our combined experience being in marketing and product development across a myriad of brands, we felt like we had a unique point of view. We truly believed in our mission to make skincare fun, easy and accessible to everyone and knew that we’d uniquely be able to leverage our combined 20 years of bi-cultural beauty industry experience.
Glow Recipe Skincare is all about harnessing unexpected fruit pairings with effective actives, which we hadn’t really seen on the market. Our Watermelon Sleeping Mask is a prime example. We had never seen watermelon used at the front and centre of a beauty product and wanted to find a way to harness all of its soothing, hydrating benefits. We were able to maximise the watermelon fruit in an innovative, overnight mask that both hydrated with watermelon extract and gently exfoliated with AHAs, to reveal baby soft skin by morning.
The Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask is sold every three minutes, with it being sold out seven times between the site and Sephora. This was all achieved within 2 years of launching the eponymous product line. Where do you owe this virality and cut-through in the market to?
SL: We were honestly overwhelmed by the outpour of love and all our customer’s reactions. We still can’t believe the launch results of our Watermelon Sleeping Mask garnering a 5,000-person waitlist at launch. Even today, we’re humbled by all the love and support that the Watermelon Sleeping Mask has received. We credit the success and virality to the authentic story behind its creation and the sensoriality of the product itself.
Watermelon is a fruit that we hold very near and dear to our hearts. While growing up in Korea, our grandmothers would rub cold watermelon rinds on our backs in the summer to soothe our irritated heat rashes. From the ice-cube packaging to the watermelon scent, every touchpoint of using the Watermelon Sleeping Mask is sensorial and ‘skintertaining’.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
CC: We have received amazing advice from our mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, and female founders throughout the years. We appreciate all the support our colleagues have given us and the common thread from our conversations has been that if you believe in yourself and what you have to offer, it’s worth the risk.
Transitioning from a big corporation to the start-up world was lifechanging – we learned a lot about the growing pains of starting a business, but wouldn’t change that for the world. Launching Glow Recipe Skincare was a pivotal moment for us – we believed so strongly in the philosophy of the brand and the efficacy of the formulas that we took the leap.
Where to from now?
SL: We have some amazing launches coming down the line this year that we are truly excited about. We love creating innovative products that pair unexpected ingredients and can’t wait to share with our beauty community.
Our mission for Glow Recipe is to bring our customers best-in-class clean innovations that are effective, super sensorial and unapologetically fun, and we are excited to continue to do so!