℅ Corinna Marie Photography
Beauty Queen: Christina Choi Cosmetics, 37, Founder of Christina Choi Cosmetics, a lifestyle beauty brand for the modern woman “on-the-go”. CCC is tailored to cultivating all of the different features for the universal woman, hence the brand’s mantra, “Celebrate your unique beauty”. Having experienced her own personal and beauty struggles, Christina recognized a lack of supply for the Asian-American woman within the beauty industry and has made it her mission to provide a line of beauty care to inspire, educate and celebrate the cosmopolitan woman. Here she speaks to Vanity + Trade on passion and pivoting her hobby into a career.
Being an entrepreneur in the beauty industry, is it as glamorous as it sounds?
It can be glamorous at times, but there is a lot more business, hustle, and logistics involved.
Your products are made for the woman “on-the-go”. Tell us how your products cater to that demo?
Our BB Cream is ideal for businesswomen because it primes, protects, and perfects, all in one simple step! It hydrates and instantly evens out and brightens the complexion at the same time. It is infused with goji berry extract, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also has SPF 30 broad spectrum. Colors like Namu and Chai are designed to be used as eyeshadows, eyebrow colors, and eyeliners so our products are multi-functional. We have numerous clients who tell us that these are their go-to colors, and have replaced a lot of the makeup they used to travel with. Brighter shades like Creamsicle and Amorous are gorgeous eyeshadows and blush colors as well. Our Luxe Cream Crayons can be as a lipstick or a lip liner. All our products are made in the USA, cruelty-free and hypoallergenic.
You’re essentially in the business of taking care of women’s beauty. Talk about how your brand nurtures both the external and internal essence for your clientele.
“Celebrate your unique beauty” is our mantra. Our brand and our products are all about honoring your features and to be the best version of yourself. I started this company after traveling the country for many years doing makeovers on thousands of women. In that process, women of all different ages and ethnicities would come to me because I didn’t try to mask who they were, but rather highlight their best features. In addition, as an Asian American woman I was sensitive to the fact that many products and looks did not cater to women with different eye shapes. My passion and mission has been to remedy these situations with exceptional productions and techniques.
So many women want to launch their own business but they are either afraid or don’t have the know-how. Talk about the pivotal moment you decided to launch your own brand.
There was never a pivotal moment and it happened pretty organically. I have been a makeup artist in the beauty industry for 19 years. When I first started in the industry, I worked for MAC Cosmetics part-time during college. I really didn’t think I would ever have a career in makeup as it was just a fun hobby of mine. After being with MAC for 8 years, I decided to switch gears and learn more of the business side of the cosmetics industry and took a job with Bare Minerals HQ. I quickly moved up and became the National Makeup Artist and Designer of Makeup Artistry for the company. At that level, I was working with so many different departments within the corporate office: From product development to events to marketing, and then sales. On top of that, I was also traveling weekly to meet clients at beauty events, master classes and photo shoots. With all these experiences under my belt (brush belt, that is!), starting my own brand, sharing my point of view on beauty, and sharing my creativity was the next step for me in my career.
In your bio, along with your beauty struggles of not being able to find the right colors for the Asian-American skin (I can relate to that), you also talk about your personal struggles. What were they?
When I was in high school, I got my makeup done for the first time at a makeup counter for our senior portraits. I was traumatized at how the makeup artist did my eye makeup. She created a fake crease on my eyelids and did not honor my natural features. The colors that she applied were not complimentary either. At that moment, I knew that this was not right and this was going against my ethnicity and my natural beauty. I realized many Asian women share the same struggles, and they don’t know how to do makeup on their eyes. Our eye brush collection works for everyone, but specifically designed to work with Asian eye shapes. I make sure that my brushes and eye products work especially well for Asian features and a complexion that may be a little darker. Whenever I’m developing something, I’m always thinking about that in the back of my mind.
You are in a highly competitive space in the world of beauty and cosmetics. How do you manage to stay afloat and unique?
I strive to share my experiences and my passions. I love what I do and I love helping women look and feel their best. I try to have my honesty and sincerity come through in all that I do, and that is unique. My goal is to always follow my own passion, my own path and always provide the best products paired with top customer service for all my clients. This sets us apart.
Who are your biggest mentors?
This might be surprising, but my parents and grandmother are some of my biggest mentors. I watched them work hard every day when I was growing up, and I continue that work effort in all that I do.
Talk about the hustle behind the scenes that no one openly speaks about?
Behind the scenes, there is a lot of time spent doing research, product development, planning events, and seeing clients. It takes a lot to make sure each product is great so that everyone will have a good experience with it.
How did you market yourself and the brand you were building?
A lot of our marketing is by word of mouth, clients sharing their experiences about the products. We also do lots of trade shows and pop up shops/events collaborating with complimentary businesses.
List 3 traits you think all women entrepreneurs need in order to succeed?
My 3 P’s…Passion, Patience, and Perseverance.
Which one of your products, can’t you live without?
Choosing one is hard. My everyday staples are BB Cream because I’m a new mom and it’s a quick and easy fix to get my skin looking flawless. I also love our Apricot Rum Luxe Cream Crayon because it’s a gorgeous everyday lipcolor that looks great on all skin tones. Also, our Namu Eyeshadow, because I use it as an eyeshadow color, brow color and eyeliner.
Share a funny (interesting, heartfelt) story that epitomizes your professional journey.
One thing I find amazing is the relationships I have developed with some of my clients. They have grown from being customers to being dear friends. When I can, we meet for coffee, or email. We know about each other’s families and we are a part of each other’s lives. It is really special.
Another surprising and special part of my job is when some of my clients have told me they were dealing with a major illness and that our makeup helped them feel better when they were having a hard time. Our products are helping to give women pride in their beauty. My clients move and inspired me all the time.
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