Michelle Kim of IPO Cosmetics: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry
An Interview With Jilea Hemmings
Organic testimonials are always the best for me, and I am not a fan of paying influencers to post my product when they don’t even know the name of the product. You have to search for the right influencers that will truly love your product.
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 Michelle Kim.
Michelle spent 20 years in the fashion industry before exploring her true passion, skincare. The self-proclaimed product junkie was truly clear about one thing when starting IPO Cosmetics — quality over gimmicky aesthetics. The patented pouches are innovative, eco-friendly and cost-effective, allowing Kim to invest the most capital in the formulations versus the shelf-appeal.
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 share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Starting a new career in beauty after spending 20 years in the fashion industry, I’m always being asked, “Why did you leave the fashion industry?” At first, I was hesitant and uncomfortable, then I started to talk about my breast cancer and now, I am proud of overcoming breast cancer, and I am really looking forward to helping others because of the experience.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success?
A few short months after the IPO Cosmetics launch, Anthropologie placed a retail order without doing an in-store trial first. It was heartwarming to see the quick response retailers had for my first beauty product.
Did you start doing anything different?
What IPO Cosmetics does differently is that we focus on the quality of formulation versus the marketing aesthetic. Utilizing my patented 4-step pouches, I’m able to put more capital and resources towards the actual product going on someone’s skin so they achieve the highest positive outcomes.
Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
Don’t try to cheat or cut corners with your quality to save money. Consumers will notice that and not come back to buy again.
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?
I am grateful for many people in my life. Aside from my friends and family, if I didn’t meet the right sales reps, customers, buyers, production vendors, great staff, etc, I would not be where I am today. Every single person I’ve met has been a blessing and played a role in my success.
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?
IPO Cosmetics is luxury skincare packaged in a patented 4-Step tear off pouch. During the initial research and development phase, I discovered that a majority of the budget ends up going towards packaging and marketing, not the formulas. It really blew me away! I wanted to change that, bring high-quality, effective formulas to the masses without bankrupting them for an ounce of product in a three-ounce container.
IPO delivers a facial cleanser, eye cream, face cream and sheet mask all in the convenience of one single pouch. Portable, recyclable, and affordable, each $8 set packs high-quality ingredients that deliver a luxury facial experience without the luxury cost. All items are paraben, sulfate, artificial fragrance and cruelty free, and TSA approved.
How do you think that will help people?
Luxury products fall into the category of disposable income and not everyone has access to that. Especially post-pandemic. IPO Cosmetics allows those yearning for quality skincare that fits in their budget. It’s like enjoying one piece of decadent cake instead of buying the full-size, very expensive cake at a high-end bakery.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
The technology in creating all these great beauty products, supplements, and beauty tools really intrigues me. What you can now do at home, 10 years ago you had to go to a specialty skincare clinic.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry?
One of my bigger concerns is brands that saturate the market because they have large marketing budgets that can easily convince consumers to try products that may not actually do what they advertise.
I wish every brand really cared about creating great products that consumers really deserve to spend their hard-earned money on.
If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
There should be a strict set of standards regarding ingredients that should be used or not used in products.
Consumers are too into believing influencers than the actual product. They are fooled and waste a lot of money by following and buying endorsed products.
More in-your-face warnings when an influencer is being paid or a media outlet is utilizing all affiliate links in a story so consumers know there is a pay-to-play aspect and it’s not a traditional third-party endorsement where the product was tested and this was the honest review.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
You have to spend time on your skin and a bottle of cream or serum won’t change the way you look. Invest in cleansing, exfoliating, toning, using beauty tools to lift and shape, and using a good amount of night cream followed by eye cream.
Try different products to find out what works best for your skin. Not every item is for everyone.
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.
- Don’t try to OEM someone else’s product and put your name on it and claim it’s your creation. You need to create your own formula with the lab or the factory.
- You really have to test a lot of products to know what is good or not. Even products marketed as high-end are not the quality they should be. Consumers who are into beauty products are smart. They will know if your product is good or not.
- Organic testimonials are always the best for me, and I am not a fan of paying influencers to post my product when they don’t even know the name of the product. You have to search for the right influencers that will truly love your product.
- Work with distributors or wholesalers who share their portfolio. You will not want to be in the mix with brands or products that will bring down the value of the product so if they are not open to sharing the company history or information, they can’t be trusted and they will knock off your product with someone else.
- Do your research on companies or distributors that try to place attractive purchase orders if you don’t know them. They may approach you because they want to know the production detail, cost, margin, etc. Always have an NDA ready, and verify their business, before you share company information. I’ve been approached by an overseas distributor who promised a large order that never happened. I ended up providing them with a lot of free samples that could have been taken to the lab for all I know. I never heard from them again!
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. :-)
Care about what you do and what you believe in, you have to try harder to make something your own and be successful at it, nothing comes easy in life. Try to help anyone that can use and appreciate your experience, one piece advice or comment can really help their lives. You have to believe hard work, and faith will pay off but only you can design your future and your life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When working in fashion, I was fortunate to be successful and not have to worry about money. However, I never felt happy or content. When I got diagnosed with cancer, I lost it all and struggled. Though I did discover money is only a small portion in life that makes you happy. Be thankful that you have a roof over your head, you have good health, you have people that care about and love you, and most of all wake up really realize how beautiful life can be.
I am thankful to God who looks after me and teaches me lessons every single day and really makes me feel excited that life has so much to offer.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.