Some of today's biggest players in the beauty industry just happen to be the underdogs. Indie beauty brands are hotter than ever and in our new series, Indie Beauties, we're chatting with the powerhouse women behind these brands to learn how they made their dreams a reality. This week we're featuring Angela Jia Kim, founder of Savor lifestyle brands—Savor Beauty, Savor Spa, and women-in-business organization, Savor the Success.
What was your first job in the beauty business?
"Making lotions and potions in my kitchen! The only experience with beauty I had was a passion and obsession over the creams my aunts always sent to my mom from Korea. I made creams to use myself and started to give them as gifts to friends. They loved them and wanted to buy them as gifts for their friends. When I first opened Savor Spa, it was actually meant to be a boutique retail store, until someone walked in and asked for a facial. I was quick and nimble on my feet (as all entrepreneurs are) and soon after, we were offering facials, getting amazing Yelp reviews, and gaining recognition like being included in New York Magazine’s 'Best of' list and InStyle’s Blackbook."
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting out?
"The isolation of being an entrepreneur. When I was a concert pianist I would spend hours in the practice room alone, and then on stage alone, and in the hotel room alone. Once I started my own business, I was still alone—but this time with many more bills! When I launched my business, I was a social hermit (and still am). It was very hard for me to network and have employees because I never had to communicate much verbally. All of my communication came from my hands on the stage. Networking and connecting was a skill that I had to learn and am still learning to this day!"
What inspired you to start your own company?
"I was a concert pianist and while on tour, I put this 'natural' lotion before walking out on stage. I started to break out into hives in front to hundreds of people, and it was so horrifying! After the concert, I studied the list of ingredients and was shocked to find out how many chemicals were in the formula. I wanted something luxurious, organic, and good for the skin. I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur and my background in achieving perfection for my performances translated well when I prototyped 1000s of creams."
Where did you see yourself at 20?
"I thought I would be a concert pianist until the day I died. I felt that my hands had a healing power through communication of sound and feeling. Those skills have transferred into the beauty industry where I now invent beauty products that heal and have spas that are vessels for healing through touch. I used to have recurring visions of being the creator of something really big and being the host of important events. I didn’t understand it at the time, but as those visions manifest, I am learning to really trust my mind’s eye and intuition."
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
"A lot of my visions of the future start with a feeling. I have this feeling of filling other’s cups. I think my businesses are meant to do that. Create a sense of fulfillment, meaning, and richness. I definitely will be involved with a charity that means a lot to me—probably around music—and maybe I will play again one day, too. I have a six-year-old daughter. I think I will have many more 'children' in that I will help thousands of girls and women to do something extraordinary with their lives—either through example or through teachings. Let’s see where this leads us!"
What empowers and fulfills you as a businesswoman?
"I love seeing something come to life and take off. I love giving others opportunities and seeing them rise to the occasion. I love overcoming challenges and helping others to do the same. For me, it’s all about mindset. There’s nothing we cannot do and the only obstacle is the mind. I enjoy playing with that notion and seeing how we can breakthrough."
What is the best business advice you've received?
"Personal growth is business growth."
What is the best beauty advice you've received?
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
"It's important to me that my six-year-old daughter, Sienna, sees the importance of conscious decision-making for well-being. I want her to see how I manifest my dreams and for her to feel excited for her own. Sienna had a class assignment recently and reported that the 'most important thing my mama teaches me is to never give up.”'I love that I am able to teach her through example. I think it’s very important that she sees me fail, get up, and try again."
What is one piece of advice you'd give other women looking to break into the beauty business?
"There are a lot of beauty brands on the market, so if you are going to launch a beauty product brand, you must get very clear on three things: What makes this product crazy different from anything on the market? Who is the buyer? (You may have to find out the way I found out—selling my products at a holiday shop and getting to know those who pulled out their credit cards to purchase.) Where is s/he? How do I reach this market?"
What are the top three products from your own line you can't live without?
"The Pumpkin Serum mixed with Rose Toning Mist and Truffle face cream keeps my skin brilliant and luminous. I call this the 'Triple Threat' and put it on every single day and night! The Manuka Honey Masque with antibacterial Manuka Honey and skin-brightening papaya and apricot enzymes. My husband even uses the Manuka Honey when he brews his own beers!"
You actually have several different companies under your brand. What inspired you to expand so much?
"When I was 13, my piano teacher asked my what I wanted my tombstone to say. Morbid, I know. Even at that young age, I wanted to live my full potential and help others to the same. Since my dad passed away when I was young, I saw his graveyard filled with his dreams. So I’m passionate about helping others to live a full life and not wasting time on things that don’t matter. I always say that I created a 'cream that inspires others to dream.' Many people were asking how I was able to make this transition so I created the Daily Action Planner and Manifest Method School to help others create a business and life they love."
How are you ensuring Savor Beauty is standing out in the natural beauty space?
"When I founded Savor Beauty, I got creative and used luxe ingredients like champagne, caviar, and truffles, which have tremendous beauty benefits, and infused them with organic extracts for the best anti-aging results. The counterpoint of luxe and organic make us unique. Savor Beauty + Spa is the only retail brand with a serious skin spa that specializes in organic facials, utilizing technology for real transformative results. Our estheticians help our clients to solve their skincare issues for a gorgeous glow, using cutting-edge procedures and technology."
Another aspect of your business is Savor the Success. What prompted you to launch such a program?
"I think people feel amazingly beautiful and powerful when they are living their dreams, and this is why I have Savor the Success, an organization that empowers business women through education, events, and connections. We have programs, events, workshops and retreats that teach, inspire and connect women. Every retreat ends with a facial for their well-being and self-care, too."
Why is it important to you to create a brand that not only is successful from a business standpoint but also is so involved in the community? (Kim focuses on a sustainable business while supporting several charities, including She’s the First, Pencils of Promise, Education through Music, School for Strings.)
"Maybe I’m a different type of businesswoman because I was a concert pianist first. I never worked for money my entire life. I worked for excellence and to make a difference for someone. The money came after. I wanted to create a brand that was good for the skin and good for the world. I’m only getting started and have a lot of work to do. I’m so fortunate that my businesses have done well and have afforded me a lifestyle that I feel good about. But when it becomes only about money, I feel empty, unhappy and burnt out. When the shift goes into something bigger like making a difference in the community, I feel fulfilled and on fire."
What inspires you to reach for the stars? Let us know!
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