Since its first line of products launched in 2017, Glow Recipe, Sarah Lee and Christine Chang’s skincare brand, has been a driving force in the Korean beauty wave right here in the United States. It’s not hard to see why. From their colorful packaging to their alluring fruit-based scents, Glow Recipe’s products are designed to be a multisensory experience meant to make your skincare routine more than something you have to do, but something you want to do.
“We grew up [in South Korea] watching our moms and our grandmothers really enjoying their skincare every night. Pampering themselves, carving up that time for themselves,” Chang says in the latest episode of Fast Company’s podcast Creative Conversation. “We were realizing that it just really wasn’t the case [in the U.S.]. Skincare was a chore that you had to get through to get to makeup. And we wanted to change that conversation.”
Lee and Chang met and became friends while working for L’Oréal in South Korea. When the two were relocated to the company’s New York City office, they realized there was an opportunity to translate Korean beauty trends to the American market. Glow Recipe was founded in 2014 as a curated destination for Korean products. But three years into the venture, Lee and Chang pivoted toward creating their own products. What started with a personal investment of $25,000 each has since ballooned into a global brand grossing $60 million in retail sales alone.
Glow Recipe’s secret to success in the multibillion-dollar skincare industry? “Skintertainment.”
“We coined and trademarked [skintertainment] because it is our philosophy, and we live by it,” Lee says. “We really wanted to make skincare not just efficacious, but fun and joyful all at the same time”—and to tell a story.
Glow Recipe’s hero product, the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, was inspired by Lee’s and Chang’s grandmothers, who would rub watermelon rinds on their skin during the summer to soothe heat rashes.
“The watermelon mask jar is inspired by an ice cube, because when we had the watermelon rind applied on our heat rashes, it felt so cooling. We wanted everyone to experience the same experience visually,” Lee says. “We always remember that our heritage was that skincare is a lifestyle. It’s about the approach rather than just the product itself.”
In this episode, Lee and Chang dive deeper into their philosophy and recount the learning curves they’ve faced while building their fast-growing brand.