K-Beauty Entrepreneur Susie Yoon’s 10 Steps To Building A Beauty Brand

We chat with Skinesque founder Susie Yoon about what it takes to launch a business.

Photo Artwork: Joy Adaeze

Chatting with Susie Yoon is a lesson in how to get things done. The former attorney pivoted to her beauty business, Skinesque, a little over five years ago—while also raising two young kids. 

During a year-long work stint in Asia in her previous attorney life, Korean-American Yoon saw an opportunity to make K-beauty more accessible outside of South Korea. “Back then, K-beauty was still new,” says Yoon. “Sites like Soko Glam were one of the few that offered people outside of Asia access to the products.”

[SEE ALSO: What Is The Skin Barrier And How Do We Protect It?]

After meeting her mentor (more on the importance of that later), Yoon decided to launch her own K-beauty brand. Skinesque stands out among other beauty brands because the current line consists of only three products: the Enzyme Cleansing Powder, Brightening Charcoal Sheet Mask and Moisture Lock Cream. (Editor’s note: The Enzyme Cleansing Powder is a game changer for frequent flyers. It’s an exfoliating face wash in powder form that activates with water—genius!)

Skinesque is designed for sensitive skin and Yoon’s own family, including her daughter with eczema, happily use the three products.

As for why Yoon chose to keep Skinesque so simple? “K-beauty can feel daunting and difficult. The 10 steps, 13 steps, glass skin,” she says. “We don’t need that many products and as a working mom, I know a lot of people can’t take that kind of time for their skincare. So I made one product for each category.”

Photo Credit: Brand

While Yoon doesn’t believe a beauty routine needs 10 steps, building a beauty brand can definitely take 10 steps (or more). Here are hers.

Find A Mentor
“Anyone can start a business these days because barriers to entry are low,” says Yoon. “You can go to Shopify, make your site and start a business. But maintaining the business is hard. A mentor gives you access, advice, encouragement.” Yoon found her mentor through the Tory Burch Foundation which puts female entrepreneurs in contact with business mentors.

Talk To People
“In the beginning, I was so intimidated talking to people about my business,” admits Yoon. “But I went to a lot of business mixers and learned so much just by talking to people. Now I have interns or new entrepreneurs asking me for advice and I’m so excited to talk to them and help them.” 

Be Flexible And Ready To Pivot
Yoon originally thought she’d start an e-commerce site to make K-beauty more accessible to the masses, but soon pivoted to creating her own brand. “Once I got access to manufacturers in South Korea through my mentor, the idea for Skinesque was born.”

Photo Credit: Brand

Educate Yourself Differently
“Having an education is very important, especially for WOC,” says Yoon. “My background was law so I had no idea about the specific education I needed for business: finances, budgeting, capital-raising, etc.” Yoon suggests a sit-down with someone who is knowledgeable about these things (see: mentor, above) if you’re considering starting a business.

Do Your Research But Involve Your Fam
Yoon’s daughter helped her create the name Skinesque when she was only 5 years old. Yoon knew she wanted a “K” in the brand name. “I learned that when people hear K, Q or C sounds, it’s easier for them to remember the name.” Voilà, Skinesque!

Innovation Isn’t Always More
“I wanted to take away from what was already there in K-Beauty,” says Yoon. Bringing things down to the essentials has been a success for Yoon. Psst! She did tell us she’s launching four new Skinesque products next year, but she’s still keeping it simple. “One product per category,” explains Yoon. “Less is more.”

Photo Credit: Brand

Don’t Multitask But Do Schedule
“I can multitask, but I want to only do one thing at a time,” says Yoon. “So my schedule is very regimented. I work from 9am to 3pm. I’m home by 4 pm for the kids. If I have calls with South Korea, it’s from 7pm to 9 pm.”

Build A Team
Four years ago, I was working every single day while in the process of building a team,” recalls Yoon. “But now, my team allows me to step back a little to focus on my kids, who are older now and need more emotional time and support.”

Make Time For Family
“Weekends are for family.” Period.

Make Time For Yourself
“Friday mornings are when I have time to myself,” says Yoon. The perfect time for her Skinesque routine!