Be authentic. What is your brand about? Make sure that you establish your branding and brand voice around what your brand is exactly about. Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because it’s blowing up and getting a lot of eyeballs. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything.
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 Annie Wang, CEO/Founder of Glowie Co, an online beauty retailer offering the best curation of Asian beauty products from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea.
A former buyer in the beauty industry, Annie was tired of not being able to find her favorite Asian beauty products available online or having to wait up to a month for their arrival. She’s always been a huge beauty junkie, so much that she even made it into a corporate career. She worked at Sephora HQ for 7 years on the Skincare, Hair, and Fragrance categories as a Planner and Buyer. Now, just over a year after launching Glowie Co, Annie is still striving to offer the newest and most cutting-edge products on the market and is relentless in her pursuit to help others create, understand and enjoy their skincare routines and of course, Her truest achieve that #glowieskin.
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’ve always been into beauty, starting from when I was a teenager. I remember back then, like many others, I dealt with acne and breakouts that really hurt my confidence. I started researching more into skincare because I was trying to figure out how to get rid of my acne and ended up being obsessed with it. In college, I started to experiment more makeup and found it to be so much fun.
Shortly after entering the workforce, I landed a job at Sephora as a demand planner. I eventually worked my way up to a buyer role. Over the course of 6 years, I managed a variety of product categories but my obsession with skincare always remained high. As a Taiwanese-American, I felt that Taiwanese skincare brands were underappreciated and I saw an opportunity in this space, not only for Taiwanese products but for Asian skincare in general.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One time I saw Alicia Keys heading towards the elevator and I was just shook because first, it’s Alicia Keys, and second, she’s just as beautiful in person as she is on screen! With absolutely no makeup!
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 biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career so far that has benefitted me the most is to stay curious. I’ve always had a passion for beauty and started seeing success when I worked at Sephora because I was naturally very engaged with the products. If something didn’t make sense, I would always ask why. One time we featured a very popular mask in front of every store but it was scheduled to be removed. But this mask was ranking as the top mask and no one had thought to keep it. I pointed this out and luckily we found a space to merchandise it permanently! It went on to become one of the top mask brands at Sephora.
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, I naturally found mentors at work who helped me “get to the next level”. I worked very well with one of my coworkers who was in a different department. We worked pretty close cross functionally, but when I wanted to transfer into her department, she handed me some of her own tasks to show that I was already training and learning for a “new” job, which eventually helped me switch over.
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?
A lot of the innovation within skincare has come from Asia within the last decade and more recently, innovation is coming specifically from Korea. We are trying to bridge the gap by making that innovative, but hard to find Asian skincare, whether it be silk sheet masks or self-heating eye masks, more readily accessible and available to purchase for the American consumer.
Even though we are globally connected now through technology, supply chain networks are not there yet. Before starting Glowie Co, it was hard for me to find some of my favorite Asian Beauty products online. If I did find them, sometimes I would have to either pay a large customs charge or wait for up to a month for them to arrive in the US. Neither of these options result in a pleasant customer experience.
In the end, Glowie Co is helping consumers as we are widening the possibility of their skincare choices and routines. Everyone’s skin is different, so it’s on the consumer to research what ingredients may benefit their skin type and skin concerns the most in addition to testing products to see how they work on their skin. It’s a process, but one that I personally love to do.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
Social media has really democratized information across multiple industries and we are definitely seeing it in the beauty industry. Consumers are educating themselves on ingredients and scouring once ignored ingredients list for each product to help determine if that product will work on the skin. This demand has also pushed retailers and brands to be more transparent in their supply chains and product formulations, which I think is great. The more information we can give consumers, the better informed they will be to make the right choice.
Another thing that excites me is a renewed focus on skincare. In the US, makeup has been the biggest category historically, but we are seeing a huge shift in interest over to skincare. It’s very interesting seeing this shift as a few years ago, heavy makeup was the trend — thick brows, contouring, and baking. But we’re seeing a shift into wearing less makeup (especially with the pandemic now) and really going back to basics and taking care of the skin.
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?
The biggest thing that concerns me in the beauty industry is representation. Even though brands like Fenty have set a new standard for a foundation shade range, the beauty industry still has a ton to do in terms of inclusive shade ranges and representation of BIPOC. With the recent #pulluporshutup movement, it’s clear that the majority of beauty brands are still run by white people. To remedy this issue, a good start would be for beauty brands and retailers to implement a legitimate focus on hiring minorities.
Another pressing issue is waste. Consumer beauty products make up a large portion of the trash in landfills. Luckily, there is a bigger focus on sustainability. How can we create packaging alternatives that use less waste? How can we reduce more waste from one time use products? These are all difficult issues that need to be addressed, but we are seeing some changes already. Brands are looking into more eco-conscious packaging materials and we are seeing reusable versions of one time use products come to market, like makeup wipes.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
I feel the most beautiful when my skin is hydrated — like right after a sheet mask! It’s the easiest way to get a youthful and healthy glow. It’s also my one step hack for revitalizing my skin whenever it feels off.
If you don’t have a sheet mask, I like making a quick “DIY” sheet mask by using cotton pads and soaking them with a hydrating toner, lotion, or serum and putting the pads on my face for 10–15 minutes. Your skin will thank you.
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.
- Be authentic
What is your brand about? Make sure that you establish your branding and brand voice around what your brand is exactly about. Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because it’s blowing up and getting a lot of eyeballs. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything.
2. Engage with your community
Check in with your community from time to time — they are your customers after all. Listen to their feedback and see if there’s opportunity to implement. We have customers suggest new brands for us to launch all the time and that is definitely has become a place we look to when we source new brands.
3. Keep watch of trends
Don’t jump on everything that’s hot, but definitely keep up with what’s trending to see where your brand can authentically fit in. You never know when something can become larger and a category by itself — like sheet masks!
4. Launch innovative and meaningful products
Don’t just launch a product for the sake of having that product in your assortment. Is it meaningful and innovative? New products are launched all the time so if you are bringing something new to market, make sure it makes a meaningful difference from other products.
5. Sample your product to get it out there
Consumers need to test out products themselves or see a testimonial from someone they trust (an influencer, friend, etc) before they purchase. Get your product out there to drive the buzz! If you can, sample a small part of your product out there for free — if people like it, they will come back to purchase the full size.
Working with influencers has also become incredibly important as they are able to drive more awareness to your brand and products. But in order to drive meaningful awareness and conversion, partner with influencers who align with the values of your brand. Authentic partnerships will drive the best type of awareness and conversion.
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. 🙂
This is already happening, but I would love to inspire this movement even more: embracing our differences and celebrating them. What makes us different is ultimately what makes us special. What if everyone looked the same? It would be so boring!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You are exactly where you need to be.”
This was a quote shared with me by my yoga teacher (I recently signed up for a yoga teacher training!) at the start of a class. It really resonated with me as I find that many of us are constantly worrying about the future or stuck in the past. But taking a moment and acknowledging that your past has gotten you where you are now, makes me feel refreshed and optimistic for the future.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can check out my blog at www.annaytime.com or follow me on Instagram/Tiktok at @annaytime.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.