You don’t have to be a product junkie to realize that Korean beauty products are slowly taking over the top shelves of Sephora. Charlotte and Dave Cho, the husband-and-wife team behind Soko Glam—an online shop for thoughtfully curated and affordable Korean beauty products—realized that beauty, and a growing thirst for these imported goods, is more than just a trend; it’s a lifestyle. “If you have ever been to Seoul, you will know that the streets are lined with beauty shops and everyone is in tune with skin care and beauty trends,” Dave says.
Funnily enough, the two native Southern Californians met in Seoul, where Dave was stationed as a U.S. Army Captain, and Charlotte was working for Samsung’s international public relations team. And since there weren’t many ways to purchase Korean makeup and skin care products in the States at the time, their families and friends asked them to bring or send batches of products home. Upon further research, the duo realized that the obsession for these products was actually worldwide.
“There weren’t many reliable resources out there for those that wanted to learn about or buy Korean products. Soko Glam was born because we wanted to streamline that process, offering an affordable curated selection of the best Korean beauty products with fast shipping,” Dave says.
Charlotte and Dave launched Soko Glam while living in Korea in December 2012, but they moved to New York City in May 2013. A beauty connoisseur, Charlotte carefully tests the best skin care products to offer at an affordable price. She seeks products that resonate most with an American clientele and, of course, puts her public relations skills to use in marketing Soko Glam’s products to media outlets. Rounding out the business arm of the company, Dave, a student at Columbia Business School, builds strategic partnerships with Korean cosmetic manufacturers.
At barely a year old, Soko Glam has really taken off. They were recently chosen as one of three beauty vendors to participate in DailyCandy’s 2013 Bazaar, which featured 30 of the website’s favorite businesses nationwide. Soko Glam’s success speaks to Korea’s stealth takeover in the beauty industry, setting the bar for Western and other Asian cosmetic companies. While many cosmetic companies take years to produce a quality product, Korean companies are known for creating new and truly innovative products in just a few months. Another reason for the popularity of Korea brands: Many products involve a fermentation process that lends to easy absorption, eliminates bacteria, and lengthens shelf life without harsh preservatives.
Furthermore, it seems that Korea’s consumers themselves are a savvy, critical crowd. “As Hervé Bouvier, the head of Estee Lauder in Korea, puts it, ‘Korea is our benchmark. If a product sells well in Korea, we know it will work,’” Charlotte says.
Charlotte’s favorite products include the Tony Moly Floria toner and emulsion. She also swears by Etude House collagen masks, Missha First Treatment Essence, and Prestige’s Crème de Escargot snail cream.
“I love the no-makeup makeup look and anything that makes me look dewy and fresh. My makeup essentials are the IOPE Cushion Compact, Design My Eyebrow Pencil, and the Clio Waterproof Pen Liner. Dave also uses all the same skin care items,” Charlotte laughs.