Engagement with consumers — We’re still a growing brand and this is an area we’d like to target heavily. Customer feedback matters and this helps us better understand and predict what customers are looking for and need.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hannah Kim.
After years of working as a consultant for a green technology and natural supplements brand, Hannah Kim decided to focus on creating a clean skincare brand after turning 40. She realized that her body and hormones were changing — new allergies were forming from synthetic ingredients and artificial preservatives found in available beauty products. After a year of researching available “clean” products, she realized that the term “clean” was ambiguous and highly unregulated. There were plenty of “clean” ingredients out there with products that had a 2–3 year shelf-life and added aqua/water fillers. So, she decided to take a leap of faith and create Botanical Republic, to produce a clean and holistic brand, made locally here in Los Angeles in small batches to deliver ultimate freshness. Also, minimizing the tedious 7–10 skincare step to a simplified 3–5 step regime.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I come from a background in green technology and natural supplements, frequently traveling between the U.S. and all over Asia. I lived out of my suitcase for several years, so I guess you can call me an expert packer. As a Korean-American, the famous 10-step routine was ingrained in my system, and I spent so much time refilling small travel containers with all my skincare. It was so laborious. Then when I turned 40, it was visibly noticeable that the products stopped working for me, possibly from ingredient immunity, and instead had an adverse effect on my skin with breakouts and blemishes.
One day, I was visiting a close friend of mine who was pregnant in her late 30’s and her face was glowing with no sign of large pores and fine wrinkles. She was the first to introduce me to natural skincare products. But the price of natural skincare products was a bit overwhelming. This led me to my journey to research and experiment with natural ingredients to create a skincare product that will help hydrate and fight premature aging with less steps.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I never thought I would become a natural skincare formulator. My original plan was to partner up with a contract manufacturer and create custom formulations. However, the more research I did on natural ingredients, the more I became intrigued. In order to find out the benefits of a particular ingredient, I began testing ingredients on myself. I’ve always had a high interest in chemistry. After all, I did attend a high school specializing in math and science. My father was a chemist prior to moving to the states in 1985. I believe there was a reason why I chose this path, almost as if it was predestined.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
The pandemic! No, seriously. You know the saying “something bad always happens right before the good?” The line launched in January 2020, and of course, the pandemic lockdown and quarantine hit in March 2020. Now, I find that people are more focused on conscious beauty and transparency. People are paying more attention to the ingredient list because there is more attention to overall health and wellness.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes. You can call it a defining moment. Everyone needs a support system when starting a business, and it’s also during these times that you realize who your true support system is. I have these two girlfriends who were always there when I needed them. Whether to talk, to share ideas off of, to help with presentation. In the beginning, for a while, I was a one-woman operation and in order to keep business expenses down, I depended heavily on these two friends. Thank you, Karina, and Nina!
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
Sustainability. As you said, the global beauty industry is now a more than half a trillion-dollar business, and with that number, comes waste. Plastic waste and the usage of water are the two factors that are very important to me. We use hydrosol as a solvent instead of water, which is a steam distillation method using plant materials, fruits, and flowers.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
The 3 things that most excite me about the modern beauty industry are transparency, sustainability, and inclusivity. COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for many of us and taught us a valuable lesson to focus more on living a healthier and sustainable lifestyle. When it comes to skincare products, I love that many consumers become more conscious about what they apply to the skin by searching for a safer and sustainable product. This is forcing many brands to focus more on clean ingredients. Building brands that are for all skin types regardless of skin color. The use of safe clean ingredients is more about building on your existing beauty. I probably repeated the word, “sustainability” multiple times. That’s how important sustainability is. I love the fact that many brands are making conscious efforts made in minimizing plastic consumption, carbon emissions, and starting recycling programs. As our company grows, I’d like to implement all three.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
1. Plastic waste — I was shocked to find out that more than 120 billion units of packaging waste are created by the beauty industry. Choosing skincare products in glass packaging is one big step you can take to make the planet greener. While plastics can be recycled, I believe only less than 31% of the plastic packaging is actually being recycled.
2. Usage of water — Many brands use water as the main ingredients. According to the United Nations (UN), water scarcity will be exacerbated due to increasing demand, climate change, and global pollution.
3. Skincare steps — Many brands market the idea, more is more. Less steps in a skincare routine mean the use of less skincare products. It’s better for both your skin and Mother Earth.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
Self-awareness is the foundation to consciously feeling beautiful, inside and out. When you’re doing either your morning or night routine, be present, feel the moment, say words of gratitude, practicing these have helped me feel beautiful.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
1. Brand identity — What is your brand all about?
2. Conscious beauty — Nowadays, consumers are focused more on sustainability and clean ingredients especially after the pandemic.
3. Engagement with consumers — We’re still a growing brand and this is an area we’d like to target heavily. Customer feedback matters and this helps us better understand and predict what customers are looking for and need.
4. Target audience — Finding the right target audience is essential to modern beauty. If your brand works for every age group, then that’s great.
5. Educate — Continue to research and educate on new ingredients and formulations.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Instead of just being a commodity purchase, I wanted to create a business with a movement to give back to nature. Even if that starts with a donation, it creates a positive impact on Mother Earth. That’s why I’ve decided to partner with One Tree Planet. Their mission is to reforest the planet, one tree at a time to help offset carbon emissions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” — Maya Angelou
Instead of focusing on what you dislike and/or what you don’t have, focus on what you like and do have. When your mind is on something that you’re dissatisfied with, it will only frustrate you and simultaneously you’re attracting negativity. Negativity limits your potential from creativity and focus.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.