Share your story with us! How did you get to where you are today?
After working as a bank finance lawyer in New York City, I decided to move to Silicon Valley to work as a startup lawyer, representing startup companies and venture capitals. It was through my work with these companies that I met my co-founder, who was a nuclear physicist turned skincare chemist. He’s being doing skincare research in terms of ingredients, formulations and technologies in South Korea for over 20 years. I’ve been always into skincare as a consumer, and after learning about all the innovations in South Korea, and particularly all the research and developments that my co-founder has done in regard to solubilization, delivery and hydration technologies, I decided to leave my legal career and create VENN with my co-founder.
Tell us a little about how VENN came to be, what core values does the brand hold and where does the name come from?
K-Beauty has become a global phenomenon, and there’s a good reason for this – Korea is now the 9th largest cosmetics market in the world and is advanced with skincare innovations and technological developments. Yet, while many people outside Korea have heard of the term “K-Beauty,” often they can’t name a Korean brand. So, my co-founder and I decided to create a brand that embodies the most advanced skincare ingredients, formulations and technologies from South Korea, that’s also aligned with the global demand for clean and streamlined skincare. We also didn’t cap on our product cost to match a certain retail price. I learned that many great innovations and technologies don’t always materialize into actual products because they would increase the product cost. Working without a cap allowed us to create the best and most advanced version of each of our products.
The name “VENN” comes from Venn diagram, which is a diagram showing the intersection among different subsets. Our brand DNA is the intersection among science, nature and lifestyle
What was the gap in the skincare market that you saw and how did you begin to bridge it? What are the key elements that set VENN apart?
I often compare skincare products to cars, because the components that drive performance are very similar. A car’s performance depends on the quality of the fuel and the engine. It’s pretty much similar with skincare products. A skincare product’s performance depends on the quality of the ingredients (i.e., the fuel) and the formula’s ability to process and deliver those ingredients into the skin (i.e., the engine). Korea’s skincare innovation has focused on the “engine” – developing technologies that allow a formula to effectively process and deliver the ingredients to the skin.
So, the key elements that set VENN apart are our science – our three patented technologies (Solubilization, Delivery and Hydration Technologies) that form the powerful engine of our products.
Why do you think Korean skincare has become such a global phenomenon and what is one thing we could take from their philosophy or their approach to skincare?
Cosmetics, along with electronics, has become one of Korea’s key industries that drive the economy. So, Korea has seen very rapid growth and technological advancements in cosmetics and skincare. I think this growth and the innovations coming from Korea helped Korean skincare become a global phenomenon. Samsung’s advertising campaign slogan used to be “The Next Big Thing is Already Here.” I think Korea’s skincare philosophy is focused on developing and introducing the “Next Big Thing” in skincare, rather than the same, generic products that have always existed.
Are VENN products designed to be used as a whole line together or are there products that would fit nicely into existing skincare routines?
VENN products are meant to help streamline skincare routines. You don’t have to necessarily use every single one of our products. We do, however, recommend using one of the All-In-One Concentrates as the foundational skincare. To the extent you need extra, you can add in the Booster, the Red Oil, and/or the Lifting Mask. Also, the Booster and the Red Oil are “all-in-one” products in their own category, and you can easily incorporate them in any existing skincare routines.
What aspects of launching VENN did you find most challenging, what helped you to work through them and how does has your role changed from the early days?
I launched VENN not really knowing anything about the cosmetics market. I think my ignorance allowed me to be brave. I had really good advisors and mentors who helped me navigate various complexities in creating and launching VENN. I’m still involved in almost every aspect of the business, although I now try to delegate work to our team members. I’m also heavily involved in the research and development process, because that is really the heart of the brand.
Where does your passion for skincare skincare come from and has it always been a big part of daily life for you?
I’ve been always into skincare. When I moved to Silicon Valley from NYC, I had 90 different skincare products. My friends who helped me pack actually counted, so I remember! But I also never really had the time to use multiple products.
What is your most important daily ritual and how does it keep you grounded?
My important daily ritual is when I start the day by cleansing my face with the Moisture-Balance All-In-One Face Cleanser, and then applying the All-In-One Concentrate. Now, I also use the Age-Response Compound K Hyaluronic Booster. This process wakes me up, it’s simple, and my face looks refreshed and clarified. This feeling and the refreshed and revitalized look energize me to kick off the day strong.
Describe your skincare routine and the products you cannot live without...
My morning AND evening skincare routine are pretty much the same. I cleanse with the Moisture-Balance All-In-One Face Cleanser, and then apply either Age-Reversing or Vitamin B Activated All-In-One Concentrate. Now, I also use the new Age-Response Compound K Hyaluronic Booster. While we recommend using the Lifting Mask for overnight treatment, I normally apply the Lifting Mask during the daytime, before any special meetings or occasions, because it really does instantly lift and revitalize the complexion and lift away any signs of tired and dull skin.
What does an ideal day look like to you?
Getting through all the work for the three different time zones. We have teams in Korea, the U.S. and the UK. So, I’m working for three different time zones. I have to prioritize my work, and it’s been always stressful to know what there’s work waiting that requires my attention and feedback. So, an ideal day is getting through all the work for the day so I don’t have to worry about it when I’m sleeping!
How do you like to relax and do you find it easy to factor it into your life?
When I’m in the U.S., Saturday is the only day I can totally relax, since it’s Sunday in Korea. When I’m in Korea, Sunday is the only day I can totally relax, since it’s Saturday in the U.S. Now, with a newborn and a 2-year old, it’s pretty much impossible to find a time to relax. But an ideal way to relax (and wishful thinking) would be to order pizza and watch Netflix – just being totally transparent here.
How do you create balance in your life?
I love cooking. I try to cook every dinner for my family. It helps me disassociate myself from work and spend time with the family. With COVID-19, I’ve also been finding creative ways to exercise at home!
How do you see VENN evolving going forward and what’s next for the brand?
We’ve been doing a lot of research on synbiotics and skin microbiome. Synbiotics is probiotics combined with prebiotics, and skin microbiome refers to the ecosystem of living microbes on the skin. There are many studies, including recent studies, that show a healthy skin microbiome can lead to healthier and younger skin. Our shampoo and body wash are the first products that use our proprietary combination of probiotics and prebiotics. We wanted to create cleansing products that do more than just cleansing. We have new products, including a facial mist and a body lotion, that also use our synbiotics and microbiome technology, targeted to launch early next year. VENN will always aim to offer the best and the most advanced skincare innovations and technologies from South Korea.