How Co-CEOs Turn Friendship Into a $100Million Business

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The pair quit their jobs in 2014 and pooled $50,000 in savings to launch Glow Recipe, a name inspired by the menu of services they’d see at Korean spas or dermatologist offices that would offer different “glows” for clients’ skin such as “water glow” or “honey glow.”


Even if you don’t know what K-beauty — short for Korean beauty — is, chances are, you’ve seen the jade rollers, sheet masks and snail mucin creams promising radiant, mirror-like skin on your Instagram feed or the shelves of your local drugstore.

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Chang and Lee’s relationship started as many great ones do: bonding over food as the pair first met as new employees at L’Oréal Korea in 2005.

“I remember going out to eat with our co-workers to a Korean barbeque restaurant one night and noticing that Christine was really enjoying her meal, we immediately connected over our passion for Korean barbeque, but that sparked additional conversations about our love of K-beauty and our families.” Lee recalls.

Just a few years later, both Chang and Lee were transferred to L’Oréal’s New York office. They could often be found after work sprawled on the floor of Lee’s apartment, decompressing with sheet masks and glasses of wine.

Glow Recipe Co-Founders on the Rise of K-Beauty | HYPEBAE

It was during one of these late-night conversations that Chang and Lee, who both identify as Korean Americans, realized they were the only bicultural, bilingual executives on their teams at L’Oréal. As global marketers, Chang and Lee were fascinated by Korean skin-care innovation and predicted it would become the next big thing in the U.S

“We felt like it was our mission to bring these amazing K-beauty technologies stateside,” she adds. The pair quit their jobs in 2014 and pooled $50,000 in savings to launch Glow Recipe, a name inspired by the menu of services they’d see at Korean spas or dermatologist offices that would offer different “glows” for clients’ skin such as “water glow” or “honey glow.”

Although Glow Recipe now has 40 employees, Chang and Lee look back fondly on the days when the brand was a two-woman operation.

“When it comes to entrepreneurship, you really do have to be your own legal support, accounting and designer team, all of these skills that we didn’t have exposure to when we were at L’Oréal. We like to joke that Google was always on speed dial.” Chang says

Chang and Lee quickly realized the value in asking for help. “Even if you’re being scrappy and bootstrapped, it’s smart to outsource a lawyer or an accountant to help you grow your business,” she adds. “Each entrepreneur has to figure out what they’re best at and what their time should be spent on, and for us, that was product development.”

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Growing up in South Korea, Chang and Lee always considered skin care to be a luxurious treat, watching their mothers and grandmothers pamper themselves before bed. In the U.S., however, skin care has often been seen as a “chore,” Chang says, “something you have to slog through to get to makeup, which was the fun part.”

When You'll See Results From Your Fave Glow Recipe Products - Glow RecipeWith Glow Recipe, Chang and Lee set out to elevate skin care from a chore to a pampering ritual, using bright packaging and sensorial, bouncy textures.

“We’re incredibly blessed to have our work tie closely to our [Korean] heritage. To see K-beauty trickle down into every single medicine cabinet and beauty bag has been amazing, and where we always thought it should go.”

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