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After struggling with severe eczema for much of her life, Harvard-educated Alicia Yoon left investment banking for the skincare industry. Previously, Yoon had attended esthetician school in Korea to learn how to leverage K-beauty technology and wisdom from trained chemists and heal her own skin. That healing experience left Yoon determined to make the innovation, efficacy, and quality of Korean skincare accessible to all. She spearheaded the creation of skincare company Peach & Lily and brought the “glass skin” movement to the US, providing resources for anyone hoping to improve their skin’s health.
Tune into this week’s episode to learn more about Yoon’s journey and how she invented an entirely new lane for the beauty industry.
HOW PERSONAL HEALING CREATED A BUSINESS
Turning skincare into a career was never part of her “master plan.” She decided to go to esthetician school in South Korea, not with a career in mind, but to learn how to heal her own skin. Working with chemists in Korea, Yoon learned that skin transformation comes from “holistically treating skin through a number of different pillars.”
Yoon explains to Powell, “Back then [in the early 2000s] there was no internet. So [my research involved going through] the stacks in the library and reading clinical studies and hands-on trials — all of that — to figure out how to transform my skin. [And] after a few years, eventually I was able to. …that skin transformation came from holistically treating skin.”
Unbeknownst to Yoon, the principles she learned for treating her eczema would one day provide the foundation for Peach & Lily to provide widely-accessible products that treat anyone’s skin holistically.
TAKING A CHANCE ON BEAUTY ENTREPRENEURSHIP
While still studying Korean skincare on the side, Yoon enrolled in university, earning a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and later a master’s degree from Harvard Business School. But after beginning her career at Boston Consulting Group, entrepreneurism called to her, and she left to launch Peach & Lily in 2012. The brand quickly became popular, but it wasn’t until premiering the glass skin serum that Yoon began to change the skincare industry itself.
THE GLASS SKIN TREND TAKES OFF
The idea of “glass skin” evolved from Yoon’s own skincare techniques and what she learned from South Korea. After she figured out how to replicate the effects in a serum, it became one of the most popular skincare trends in the world. “When we created this product and launched it five years ago, it’s so funny because the term ‘glass skin’ was not even a thing,” she says. “Now there’s over a billion hashtags on social media about it.”
It’s hard to believe, but when Yoon first branded the concept, she wasn’t sure people would understand it. She tells Powell in the episode, “I was so nervous that people were going to think ‘Oh my gosh, is my face going to turn to glass — like fragile — and break?’”
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[1:31] Yoon’s personal skincare journey and how it led to the founding of Peach & Lily
[5:59] Peach & Lily’s zero-compromise approach to skincare
[6:30] How Yoon consciously set her brand apart from competitors
[7:50] What it means to be the first versus being the best
[8:40] The impact of Yoon’s Korean background on her approach to skincare
[20:38] Why it’s so important for brands to educate their consumers
[23:50] The story behind Peach & Lily’s name
[25:29] Challenges Yoon faced as a female and minority CEO
Listen to the bonus episode to learn how Yoon protects her mental space and what her vision is for the future of Peach & Lily.
- Take a holistic approach to your skin with Peach & Lily’s products!
- Step up your skincare knowledge by checking out Peach & Lily’s YouTube videos!
- Get inspired by Yoon by following her on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes.