How Glow Recipe Moved from K-Beauty Curation to Creation

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This is a podcast episode titled, How Glow Recipe Moved from K-Beauty Curation to Creation. The summary for this episode is: You might know Glow Recipe for their watermelon mask. Or maybe you saw Glow Recipe on Shark Tank. What you might've missed was their seamless shift from K-beauty curation in Sephora to K-beauty inspired creation all their own. Co-founders Sarah Lee & Christine Chang sit down to talk about how they use their industry expertise and Glow Gang community to inform how they develop their own original products. Learn more: The Shake Up HubSpot Podcast Network Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Glow Recipe on Shark Tank
04:17 MIN
The shift from curator to creator
01:38 MIN
Key markers of K-Beauty
01:40 MIN
The evolution of becoming a curator
03:22 MIN
Learning and building relationships with the community built around curation
01:13 MIN
What challenges Sara and Christine as CEOs
01:25 MIN

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Alexis Gay: You're listening to The Shake Up, where we explore the business decisions that dare to be different and the leaders who are shaking up their industries. My name is Alexis Gay.

Brianne Kimmel: I'm Brianne Kimmel, and on each episode, will bring in research and data backed insights to dig into the minds of business leaders and learn how they make the decisions that challenge the status quo.

Alexis Gay: You can support the show by following us on Apple Podcast or Spotify or honestly, wherever you get your podcasts.

Brianne Kimmel: We'll be there, hanging out, talking business, ready and waiting to shake things up. Are you ready to dive in?

Alexis Gay: I am so ready to dive in. Let's get started. So today we're bringing you a particularly beautiful episode of The Shake Up. First we're talking K- Beauty, Shark Tank, subscription boxes, cosmetic creation and glow gangs.

Brianne Kimmel: Wow. And later, we'll be interviewing Sara Lee and Christine Chang, the co- founders of Glow Recipe.

Alexis Gay: I mean, I'm glowing just talking about it.

Brianne Kimmel: I can't wait. This is going to be fun.

Alexis Gay: Let's get started. Okay, so let's put on a little foundation, shall we? crosstalk Did you get it? I was waiting for you to laugh. Brianne, did you know that the current US cosmetics market is valued at$95. 92 billion?

Brianne Kimmel: Wow, that's crazy.

Alexis Gay: That's so much money. I think that's how much I spent at Sephora once. And Glow Recipe which was founded in 2014 is on a mission to break down what K- Beauty is all about, educate consumers on the unique trends coming out of Korea, bring them best in class skincare offerings, and make them accessible to American consumers through repositioning and education. Sounds great. I mean, I was looking at their product line and their marketing and their community and everything looked gorgeous, delicious, beautiful. I was ready to run right out and buy everything that they make.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, I know. I've always been very impressed with just the overall look and feel, they're really beautiful, bright colors. So the product itself is very instagrammable, which will speak to actually kind of where they came from starting with curation and now they've transitioned into creating their own products.

Alexis Gay: Absolutely. Let's talk a little bit about K- Beauty, which for those not in the know, is Korean beauty, and something that I learned recently is that Korean skincare is culturally considered hygiene, which is definitely not the case in the US or at least that's never been how I've thought about it. Have you thought about it like that?

Brianne Kimmel: No. I mean, I think that's a new concept, generally, I think even this new idea where recently facials have been positioned as being proactive medicine and things that you should do on a more ongoing basis. I think it's very new in American culture. I think historically, it's always been viewed as cosmetics and less about more health and wellness and proactive medicine.

Alexis Gay: That's a really good point. I used to only associate facials with a luxurious day at the spa, like that was something very fancy women did only.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, it's interesting. I also find with things like Glow Recipe, I mean, they've done an amazing job of turning it into something that's more of a community and something that people want to talk about as part of their broader routine. It's very fun, it's very colorful. It skews even a little bit tweeny, which I really like, because I think it's something where these are the types of products that are fun and fresh and good for your skin, and so if you're thinking about more proactive skincare and things that you want to do earlier in life, like pre anti- aging and pre like luxurious spa experiences, I think-

Alexis Gay: Pre anti- aging. Is that just like being alive? crosstalk When is pre anti- aging? Would love to be in that phase.

Brianne Kimmel: I think Glow Recipes really nailed it on the fun, proactive style of skincare.

Alexis Gay: Something else that was interesting is that, since skincare is so integrated into society, Korea is really at the forefront of skincare technology in general, and typically people say they're about five years ahead of the United States. And what I remember is the 10 step routine used to be really popular in K- Beauty and it's sort of now catching up in the US. But I have also heard that K- Beauty is now about minimalizing the number of products and really caring much more about the ingredients themselves.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, I'm really excited to talk to the founders about their choice of ingredients as well because I find in traditional Korean beauty, there will be certain types of ingredients that are used, like oftentimes you'll see a lot of ginseng, you'll see some licorice root, you'll see some bamboo extract, like there's things that definitely have more of an Eastern influence. With the Glow Recipe that's available in the US, it feels very tailored for the states. Like you have watermelon masks. You have a whole avocado lime. It just feels like it's very much built for Millennials and Gen Zs that are really tapped into the cultural, like the food trends that exist today.

Alexis Gay: Oh, yes.

Brianne Kimmel: I love the term cosmeceuticals. I think it's such an interesting term because I think what started a few years ago is like scaring everyone into clean beauty because every chemical and ingredient is bad. I think now we've evolved into this world of viewing cosmetics and everything that we use, like whether it be the things that we drink and consume, or the products that we put on our skin, people are being a lot more mindful of is each new ingredient that we're adding to the equation going to somehow improve our health and well being, and if not, be more careful and cautious with what you're doing.

Alexis Gay: Totally. Obviously, everybody knows this, but like your skin is an organ. Things can come into your body through your skin. And it just feels like nobody thought about that for a long time and then suddenly, one day they were like, don't put that on your face.

Brianne Kimmel: It's true. Yes, it's true. I mean, I also wonder to what extent is this us getting older where now I can actually afford the fancier products right now-

Alexis Gay: I know.

Brianne Kimmel: ...what ingredients are inside of them, but I love the fact that Glow Recipe is able to do this in such an approachable way. I think it's really fun, it's really colorful. I wish I could show off all the visuals, but it's like because they're able to mirror the things that we love to eat already, it's like I know and trust avocados and I trust that avocados are good for my body, and there's an avocado mask or something-

Alexis Gay: Yes, so that avocado mask is probably good for your body.

Brianne Kimmel: Exactly. It's pretty simple.

Alexis Gay: Yes. And they're really just lovely to look at which I'm not saying that's the reason that I would purchase something, but it's also very much the reason I would purchase something, you know?

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, yes. I completely agree. Yes, I'm really excited to dig into the community part of Glow Recipe's business model as well, because I'm the type of person that in the era of Instagram, every decision that I make I know it is somehow based on something that I've seen through Instagram or you know... I love watching a lot of the beauty videos before I buy anything. I'm a very considered purchase. I make a lot of considered purchases.

Alexis Gay: That's so interesting. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to identify that if you're in this space right now, how your products will look in the hands of influencers and beauty bloggers is a huge part of marketing your product effectively. I think that something that I think about when I go for new skincare and makeup is asking my friends, well, what do you use? Do you have a hyaluronic acid you really like? Or do you use eye cream, or whatever? And in a way, then employing these community managers, micro influencers, etc., it is similar to being able to ask your friend

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, that's exactly right. It's also great, too. I mean, I just see with the way that they show up on social media, I mean, they do a great job of being as transparent as possible. And I see this as being a fundamental shift in how cosmetics companies show up in the world. If I think back to when I was growing up, cosmetics ads were largely in fashion magazines, they were mostly using celebrities or famous models, the photos were heavily retouched. It would be nearly impossible to really understand exactly what the products are doing crosstalk the products were airbrushed, and yes.

Alexis Gay: Right, like 100%.

Brianne Kimmel: It was a lot of post production work, whereas today, if you look at Glow Recipe's Instagram, a lot of the photos they actually tagged which ones are unretouched, and they show a before picture-

Alexis Gay: Yes, and makeup free.

Brianne Kimmel: ... andan after picture and a lot of them are makeup free-

Alexis Gay: I loved that. I loved that.

Brianne Kimmel: ... andI really love that. I think that really changes how we think about transparency when it comes to physical products. I think also is really encouraging for the next generation because it's much different to see someone that looks like you in an unretouched photo than seeing a famous celebrity who is heavily airbrushed, and what does that do to your confidence if you're like a teenager or someone that's dealing with a skin condition? It's better to see someone that looks like you, it's unretouched. It just gives you that confidence because you're like, okay, cool, we're in this together. That ties into the community aspect, even with something as simple as photography.

Alexis Gay: Totally. And to zoom out on that idea of community for just a second and I don't mean to sound all like woo woo about this, but every brand and company that puts out models and photos that are unretouched or that are makeup free or that showcase what real people look like, that to me is all an important sort of like brick in the path of us reaching a place where we're not just constantly bombarding people with here's what you should look like.

Brianne Kimmel: Glow Recipe is a great example where it's like we're seeing these incremental steps towards more authenticity towards brands becoming not just pushers of products, but actually a safe place for people to talk about their skin. This is skewing a little bit younger, it's a safe place for people to see, oh, yes, everyone has acne. We're all teenagers, or we're all early 20s and dealing with different stress and different changes to our skin, and so it gives you a stronger sense of confidence, and it shows you that there are people like you in the world.

Alexis Gay: Okay, so Brianne, something that Glow Recipe did in there several years ago, is that the co- founders went on Shark Tank in 2015. Do you watch Shark Tank?

Brianne Kimmel: I do every once in a while.

Alexis Gay: I'm a venture capitalist, I have to watch it. And at the time of their presentation, they had about 550K in sales, a year later, they had a million dollars in sales. They actually didn't take the deal they were offered in the tank.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, it's really interesting. I mean, this is something that I've observed on Shark Tank, is that for the amount of money that they're raising, the investors are taking a pretty significant amount of ownership, if you think about it. For someone to buy a 10% to 25% of your company, you would expect them to essentially be an extension of your early team or be viewed as almost a quiet co- founder. And the interesting thing is we don't see this as much for tech companies, because rarely are you taking a term sheet from an investor that you haven't met before, that you haven't spent a bunch of time with, especially in this environment. You will have multiple hours with an investor over multiple different meetings where you get together, you talk about your product, you talk about go to market, they make some introductions for candidates that you should hire after you raise the money. There's a lot of courting that happens ahead of any sort of term sheet being signed and that happens both on the-

Alexis Gay: Right. On both sides.

Brianne Kimmel: ...on both sides. Yes. It's one of these things, I mean, I hate to use the analogy, but it is like a marriage from the perspective that once you sign the paper and someone owns 15% to 20% of your company, it's very hard to get rid of that investor, and so you want to make sure that they're delivering a lot of value and that they are truly helpful. So I don't blame them for not jumping into something right away. I also find that Shark Tank, let's be honest, it's great for visibility, and so they are master marketers, and as individuals that have previously turned cosmetics into a community, I love the fact that they went on this show, which is amazing for just generating more brand awareness, it's great for getting the product in front of a mainstream audience across America. It's also very cool and very on brand that they didn't take the offer. I actually find-

Alexis Gay: Oh, good point.

Brianne Kimmel: ...that to be like, oh, cool, that's great. They don't actually need the money.

Alexis Gay: Yes, a lot of that really makes a ton of sense. On the show, they often say, well, yes, this is more expensive, because you're getting a shark implying that of course there's strategic value to having that particular investor over another investor, which I understand, but in the case of Glow's pitch, they went in asking for 425, 000 for 10%, and the offer they got was 425,000 for 25% of their company, taking the valuation from 4. 2 million to kind of like around a million. I mean, that's a big difference in valuation. It's really interesting. I know that the hustle revealed that 56% of Shark Tank contestants had successfully made deals, and that the average deal was$ 286,000 and an average of 27% of equity given up. And so-

Brianne Kimmel: Which is higher than I would think, by the way. That's-

Alexis Gay: Yes, I mean, that's-

Brianne Kimmel: that of your company to give away.

Alexis Gay: The Hustle also said that women were more likely than men to secure deals, 60% of the women that went on versus 53% of the men, but they were still pretty underrepresented on the show, 24% versus 60%, and they were offered smaller deals on average, which... On its face that fact bums me out, but then I also would like to know more... I'd like to know more before I get up in arms. Do you what I mean?

Brianne Kimmel: Yes.

Alexis Gay: I want to know which companies they work because they're... not all companies should be necessarily valued at the same amount, but on its face, I don't love the stat. We don't love to see it.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, I don't love to see this at all. I do like the fact that you can go on this show and tell an amazing story, and the people that they bring on are experts in some very niche and interesting spaces.

Alexis Gay: Totally. And they're doing great. So it sounds like even though they didn't end up taking the deal, obviously that does not mean that you won't ultimately be successful in the market. So good on Glow.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, I agree. I mean, and I think it speaks to this evolution of them going from starting out as more of a website that was curating Korean cosmetics to this shift to creating something new.

Alexis Gay: So what do we think about this whole move from curator to creator? What do you think are the advantages for them to have moved into actually creating the whole product line versus just curating the ones that they liked the most?

Brianne Kimmel: Curation is an approachable art form. And so-

Alexis Gay: Yes, that makes sense.

Brianne Kimmel: ...if someone is listening to the podcast and they're thinking about starting something, to actually start a physical product is a lot of work, it's a lot of upfront costs, it requires more humans to help you get the idea off the ground and get your product in market, but curation is something that you can do a little bit every day.

Alexis Gay: Totally. Some of the disadvantages that come up for me when I think about curation over creation, is that at a certain point, your differentiation is only your ability to pick up on other people or other products. And I do think that at a certain point, your value will increase if you yourself are moving from curation to creation and creating something yourself. And I suppose to put that differently, it kind of feels, maybe this is a controversial statement, it kind of feels like curation as value has a shelf life. There seems like there's an expiration date on that where, okay, they're still curating, whereas if you move that and take that expertise into creation, like the founders of Glow Recipe did, I think that's actually really exciting and that's the way to level up after you've sort of plateaued as a curator. After the break, we'll talk with Glow Recipe co- founder, Sarah and Christine, and learn how they made the choice to move their company from curation to creation. We'll also talk about how you bring an entire market stateside, and who knows, maybe we'll become honorary members of the Glow gang. I'm into it. All that and more coming up next. Today's episode is sponsored by those fine folks over at HubSpot. Managing conversations with prospects and customers and creating remarkable experience can be tough. HubSpot wants to change that. That's why they created a CRM platform that makes it easy to align across teams.

Brianne Kimmel: Oh, it's so much easier. With HubSpot's unified system of record, all teams can create a better customer experience without missing a beat.

Alexis Gay: We love a unified system of record, we always say that. You can install live chat on your website and allow sales or support to get in touch with prospects directly.

Brianne Kimmel: Or send marketing emails on behalf of sales reps or customer success managers.

Alexis Gay: Not to mention, it allows prospects to book meetings with reps without wasting time.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, and best of all, teams can get access to all of the contacts' history, so they can have more informed conversations with prospects and customers and design a better overall experience.

Alexis Gay: The result, all your customer people can align around the same goals, consistently great customer journeys that drive growth and lifetime loyalty. Learn more about how you can scale your company without scaling complexity at hubspot. com. If you like what you hear, tell a friend and leave a review. And if you don't like what you hear, tell a friend anyway.

Brianne Kimmel: And don't forget to subscribe.

Alexis Gay: Okay. Honestly, if it were socially acceptable for me to be doing this interview wearing a watermelon glow, hyaluronic clay, poor tight facial mask, you know that I would be right now. We're here with Sara Lee and Christine Chang, the co- founders of Glow Recipe. Welcome to the show.

Sara Lee: Hi, my name is Sara Lee, and I'm the co- founder and co CEO of Glow Recipe.

Christine Chang: My name is Christine Chang, and I'm the co- founder and co CEO of Glow Recipe.

Sara Lee: Thanks for having us here.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, we're so excited to talk with you today. So we've been talking about the incredible growth of Glow Recipe and just K- Beauty in general.

Alexis Gay: Absolutely. It seems to me, through the work of several companies, but particularly Glow Recipe, Americans are increasingly aware of K- Beauty and the philosophy behind K- Beauty. I think there, in the past, maybe there have been more associations as this like only being a 10- step regimen, but I'm wondering, if you could just tell us a little more like, what are the actual key markers of K- Beauty?

Christine Chang: Yes, of course. So the whole catalyst for us starting this was actually the realization that there was a burgeoning interest in Korean beauty at the time. This is all the way back into 2014. And we we were also seeing not only customers, but also global companies looking to Korean manufacturers and Korean labs for the latest innovations and skincare and ingredients and technologies, and that was fascinating to us. And we were also seeing that Korean beauty articles to your point at the time were very focused on this is 10 to 15 step regimen, like how to use this type of ingredient, and it would be almost a little bit in terms of content, a little bit to clickbaity versus really getting at the heart of the matter, which is, Korean beauty is about a philosophy and it's something that we ourselves learned at our mothers and grandmothers knees, growing up. We both have these amazing memories of our grandmothers using watermelon rind and rubbing that on the skin to sooth heat rash or a mother's just marching over to the pantry, and I know Sarah's mother as one of her favorite ingredients was cucumber slices, or my mom would like to use grated potato. Just that holistic, very easy accessible approach to natural ingredients, incorporating that into your self- care routine, we would very often mask together with our moms while watching TV. And it wasn't a chore. It wasn't an arduous 15- step thing you had to get through. It was fun. Skincare over the years we felt had in general kind of lost that sense of fun and sensory reality as well. So that was really the mission that sparked this.

Brianne Kimmel: It does feel like the US in a lot of ways has been very behind in educating everyone on the fact that skincare is actually part of this broader move into health and wellness, and it's not really about just cosmetics and looking great anymore, but it's actually a part of your overall health and well- being. What were some of your feelings as far as like the US being a little bit behind and maybe our definition of skincare and directionally where you wanted to take it long term?

Sara Lee: In Korea, prevention is such a key word when it comes to skincare. You have to have layers of hydration in every step of your routine in order to prevent your skin from signs of aging, you have to wear SPF every day. We've learned this from a young age, but I think we're learning that more now in the US versus maybe 10 years ago, right? SPF is an everyday essential. We all know this now and it's become a movement in the skincare world here, but it wasn't the case many years ago. Double cleansing is absolutely critical if you're wearing makeup or SPF because only an oil can remove another oil. And typically makeup products are made with oils. But there wasn't education around these types of intricate nuances.

Alexis Gay: It's great to hear the fact that this education created the first version of Glow Recipe which actually started out as more of a curation platform. Can you tell us a little bit more about that evolution from becoming the trusted source in your friend group for K- Beauty products to then curating this amazing new experience that turned into an amazing community and a very big audience?

Christine Chang: Absolutely. So we flew over in 2014 to Korea without so much as a site to get some brands on board, and we pounded the pavement to find these brands that many of which were still very close to today. The commonality was that they were all helmed by really passionate brand founders, had unique products, had really clear product formulation philosophies, and we felt like these were the brands that needed a voice here, that needed to be introduced to the US and other global markets because of the sheer, just astounding innovation and beautiful textures and ingredient stories we were seeing. And so after a lot of convincing, and I think it really helped that even though we didn't have a sight, we had a very clear vision as to where we wanted to take this. We were able to get, I think it was eight or nine brands on board. And-

Alexis Gay: Wow. On that one trip.

Christine Chang: ...we kicked off our site right away after returning home. We googled on that one trip and we googled furiously to figure out how to build a site from scratch. There were a lot of mishaps along the way. I still cringe a little bit when I see the early iterations of our site, because at the time we were like, it looks great. Now looking back on it, there were some clear optimization opportunities. But it was so fun. Every day we were making emails ourselves. We were cold calling journalists ourselves. We were figuring out the social media content and figuring out natural ingredients, had like a half cut avocado harbinger of like future things. And just, it was a lot of scrappiness, but also we really enjoyed it because we, once again, we knew each and every step we were taking was getting us closer to our goal of bringing K- Beauty, Korean beauty philosophy to the wider audience in the way that we thought was right. We knew that eventually we would have to take that step ourselves because we ourselves had that formulation philosophy internally that we wanted to really materialize and manifest through our own brand. And the right timing for that eventually became 2017, so a couple years after launching Glow Recipe as a curation site, we launched our own in- house inaudible for a skincare brand that you see today on the shelves at Sephora in the 2017, and exclusively with Sephora at the time. And that was, once again, a very close partnership with the retailer to make sure that we were successfully launching the brand. But after launching it, just seeing, once again, that response, the multi thousand person wait- list, selling out multiple times, that to us was so, so rewarding and I think it was an accumulation of many years of creating a community, creating educational content, and really thinking about what we stood for as a brand and that really crystallized with the creation of Glow Recipe skincare.

Alexis Gay: Totally.

Christine Chang: And so we had both for a while, and then eventually in 2019, we actually decided to phase out of our curation brands, because we were seeing increasingly from our community that they were so passionate about Glow Recipe skincare, they wanted more products, more innovation, and we were a very small team.

Alexis Gay: From that point, when you started growing your successful curation business, you mentioned that you ultimately made the decision, I think you said in 2016-

Sara Lee: 2017.

Alexis Gay: 2017. What was that like? What were the things that were coming up in the market that gave you the idea at first to move away from curation? What were you thinking about at the time?

Sara Lee: I'll take this one. So there are a lot of variables, but I think the first reason why we started as a curation business model was because we wanted to give the platform and the opportunity to these brilliant founders and brands to go global by providing the content and education and marketing that we were able to provide. And once we were able to gain that credibility in the market, I think that's when we needed to really think about what we wanted to do as founders. When we were able to identify the white space of sort of the combination of the Korean inspired core tenants, plus the things that American consumers really resonate with, which are real results, clear ingredient stories, and then the Korean tenants were a sensorial experience, and the skin tone taming factor, because the experience is as important as a result is the Korean approach. This is that little moment for yourself behind shut doors in front of your vanity to just put a smile on your face. And so we wanted to provide that. And I think what we wanted to do was combine those tenants and create our own brand because we didn't really think that all of the influx of amazing Korean beauty innovations were fully understood by the American consumer, we felt the urge to break down that barrier and create our own brands that are actually much simplified by creating them as multitasking products, but having these amazing Korean inspired elements, which is why we created Glow Recipe skincare in 2017.

Christine Chang: With Glow Recipe skincare, it just felt right. Our community could not get enough. People were DMing us, the brand... our personal Instagrams, non stop asking about the next drop, like product suggestions, ideas. There was just so much passion and buzz around this brand and we knew that we had struck a chord with it because it was this balance of yes, Korean beauty philosophy, but also results first. It was a balance between familiar fruit antioxidants and used in really innovative ways that never happened before, but then paired with proven actives, like the retinols and the AHAs and all the acids and different actives that we have come to know and love in the skincare industry. And also the fact that we were speaking about fun and skincare, because for the longest time, I think skincare has been really dominated by a lot of very clinical brands, and of course those brands are... so many brands that are in that space are also really amazing. But I think that sense of sensorial reality, that extra moment, that touch that made your self- care routine that much more special. All of this was really, really appreciated and we felt like it was our almost duty to the community to make sure that we were giving them what they wanted. And so it was a balance of different emotions, a balancing act of different things we're doing on a day to day basis, but I think we did it. Looking back, I don't know that we would have changed anything because we really tried to do it in the most thoughtful way possible.

Brianne Kimmel: I love that you keep mentioning community. This is a word that keeps coming up and I think that is something that's fairly new in skincare. How did you think about, with the early community that you had built around curation, were there specific ways that you were able to learn from those founders or continue to build a relationship with them once you made the transition from curation over to Glow Recipe where it is today?

Sara Lee: Some of the founders from the curation brands are still our friends to this date. So there's a lot of synergy, actually, that comes from that, because we can always pick up the phone call them, ask them for opinions about certain things. We're both brand builders and creators, so we share so much in common. We terminated our curation business model, but the relationships and the friendships continued to this day. We still touch base with them once in a while, make sure that if they have any questions around navigating the US market, we're there for them, because we want everyone to succeed at the same time. I think that when we were transitioning to a creation business, we were not only giving them connections to the networks that we had with the retailers, but also we were asking our customers to not forget about these products or brands, and we were giving them site links to those products, to continue to shop them because we curated them for a reason, we love them for a reason. So we wanted everyone to win- win out of that situation. And I think it's the best outcome that we could have asked for.

Alexis Gay: Something that strikes me is that when I hear you talk about making that shift, that big business pivot from curation to creation, it sounds like even at the time, you felt very confident that this was the next move, this was the correct evolution for your company. And I'm wondering, did you ever have any doubts at that time that this was the right move, or were you 100% confident we got this, it's time to make our own stuff, I love that?

Christine Chang: I don't think we had doubts per se, but then it's really hard to gauge the level of success a brand will have, right?

Alexis Gay: Sure.

Christine Chang: But there's so many brands in the industry, we've had many conversations with many people in the industry about how saturated the market is. So each and every brand that comes into existence needs to have a real point of difference and a real reason to be. And I think with Glow Recipe skincare, we were able to really distill some of those personal experiences, personal passion points into the brand. I think for us what served as a north star throughout this process is really just going back to the customer. We started with the customer, we're ending there. What do they want? How do we best serve their needs? How do we create moments for them that really disrupt their self- care experience? How do we provide products that are different and really add value to their routine when they buy it, and make it part of their skincare wardrobe? So that perspective, I think, has continued to serve us and it goes back to those early days where we ourselves were answering every single customer email, hand writing notes to every single person who purchased from our site, DMing and manning those DMs on a day to day basis. And even to this day, we recheck our DMs a lot when our customer DMs us with feedback and things like that. We might not be able to write those handwritten notes anymore, because we wouldn't have any time other than writing notes at this point, but-

Alexis Gay: Yes, that would be your whole day.

Christine Chang: ...not losing that contact, I think, has been instrumental and making sure that we're navigating this the right way.

Alexis Gay: Well, that's a very clear guiding mission I can tell and how you make a lot of the decisions for the business, but I'm wondering how you balance keeping that customer first, community first mentality with some of the less glamorous aspects of creating a product.

Sara Lee: Yes. So part of what we've learned is we're first time entrepreneurs, so a lot of things that we've learned and are still learning is, how do we balance everything when we have to oversee everything as founders and co CEOs? I think that the great benefit that we have today is that we have such an incredible, incredible talented team. I don't mean to say that because they're my team, I think some individuals that are working under the Glow Recipe umbrella are truly passionate individuals today. I can say that with confidence that they just understand the social space. A lot of our team members are actually relatively young and very plugged into TikTok and... So they just have their ears and eyes on the current sort of social media landscape real time, and because of that, we're able to, not only react quickly, but proactively share what we have going on transparently with our community. So really just intertwining that communication aspect, but also the decision making internally for the business has been really instrumental. So the team really thinks that way. We think of every team member as a content creator. When we hire people, we always ask about their storytelling aspect, their photograph skills. I mean, it's a very modern approach to, I think, hiring, but also thinking about how each team member can really think in a similar way and be on the same page. And we often have brainstorm sessions with our team members, just tasking people to think about a challenge that we're facing, whether it's a marketing initiative, or a new campaign idea where we're stuck on and we want everyone to contribute. It's all like sort of intertwined and it's one sort of circular wheel, if you think about it. And that's our approach. And that actually keeps it healthier in a way, because you're always kind of just thinking of it as a lifestyle almost for everybody, not like a segmented department's role or a perspective that's different.

Alexis Gay: Something that really stood out from the conversation earlier is how intentional you both have been in curating products to then ultimately create your own product. Where do you see the future for Glow Recipe and how do you think about goal setting as well, because I think you've done such an amazing job of seamlessly, from our perspective, seamlessly evolving from curation to creation? What's next for new products or what's next from a community standpoint for the company?

Christine Chang: I think we're doing a much better job now of really communicating, okay, so this is our stance on sustainability. Not only are the jars glass, whenever possible, we're also using cartons that are now FSC certified and are free of acids and metals, and we're printing with sweet ink, and by 2022, we're committing to be carbon neutral, we've already partnered with Climate Neutral, which is an amazing organization that will help us measure and quantify and then think about plans around reduction. And all of these concrete steps, we've been able to increasingly share with our community so that they know exactly where we're trying to go. There are a lot of plans in the future, to continue to really think about those values of the company, whether its sustainability, whether its formulation, philosophy, whether it's charity causes under our glow for good umbrella that are really important to us as a brand. And then one exciting update that we're elated to share with you, it just went live I think today is that, as a company, we're committing to donate a million dollars until the end of 2022, and monetary and product contributions to our charities.

Alexis Gay: Wow, that's amazing.

Christine Chang: Thank you. We're really, really excited to be able to do this. And it revolves around our three pillars of female empowerment, diversity, inclusion, and the environment.

Alexis Gay: One of the things that you mentioned was... you said we have too many ideas, or there's a lot that we want to do, or something like that, and I'm wondering, what keeps you up at night? What's hard right now? What challenges you as co CEOs?

Sara Lee: I think... actually, it's a really timely question because there are some key challenges that we're facing today, where as a company, we're very rapidly growing. So we're very grateful for that. But that comes with a challenge around how we can make sure that everyone stays motivated and our culture is maintained. And I think any entrepreneur can relate with something like this because at any point of your entrepreneurial journey, your team pretty much makes up most of what makes a success or not, and I think people is everything. And so we're trying to figure out how to hire, because we do need to have at least 10 people more on our team in the next few months.

Christine Chang: We do have a lot of brainstorm sessions, because a team is full of ideas and we love having those creative conversations, and just really giving everyone an opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions. And going forward, it's really up in the air, because, is that day in the life going to take place at an office? Is it going to continue to be worked from home? And these are questions I think every founder, every company owner is grappling with, as we move toward increasingly getting out of the 100% work from home time that we all have to be in. So what is the future of work look like there, is something that's definitely on our minds.

Alexis Gay: Amazing. And it sounds like you're building on a strong foundation that you two touched on at the beginning, as friends, as co- founders, and modeling a ton of that behavior, both that you want to see from your team, and then also in terms of how you showcase the products yourself online. And so it sounds like you're setting a really good example for everyone that you work with across the board. And it's been such a pleasure to talk with you both today. If people want to find Glow Recipe products and Learn more about K- Beauty, where can they find you?

Sara Lee: You can find us at Glow Recipe on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and glowrecipe. com. You can also reach out to us directly on Instagram at Sara_Glow, Christine_Glow.

Alexis Gay: Nice. Thank you both so much for coming on this show today. It's been such a pleasure to have you.

Brianne Kimmel: Yes, thanks so much for joining.

Alexis Gay: Hey, Brianne, are you ready to do that thing we practiced?

Brianne Kimmel: Oh, my gosh. Is it time? I'm ready.

Alexis Gay: Okay, 3, 2, 1. Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review.

Brianne Kimmel: Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review.

Alexis Gay: Pretty good. Today's episode was written and produced by Matthew Brown, production support comes from Lauren Shield, our engineer is William Lau, with research from Corey Broccolini, and special thanks to Kyle Denhoff and Lisa Toner.

Brianne Kimmel: Word of mouth is the best way to help people discover our little podcast. Be sure to subscribe in Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever else you listen to podcast.

Alexis Gay: And don't forget to leave a review, to let other people know how awesome we are.

Brianne Kimmel: We have some amazing guest coming up this season that you won't want to miss.

Alexis Gay: See you next time.


You might know Glow Recipe for their watermelon mask. Or maybe you saw Glow Recipe on Shark Tank. What you might've missed was their seamless shift from K-beauty curation in Sephora to K-beauty inspired creation all their own.

Co-founders Sarah Lee & Christine Chang sit down to talk about how they use their industry expertise and Glow Gang community to inform how they develop their own original products.