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Behind the Scenes with Purpletale founder Young Ji

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One of the best parts about starting Beauty Beyond Borders has been connecting with some of the amazing female entrepreneurs in this space. Almost a year ago, we got an email from the founder of Purpletale and fell in love with her mission of helping people see the beauty in themselves through wholesome products. What got us hooked was the line’s Once Upon A Neck Cream (if you haven’t tried it, you absolutely should!) After experimenting with the entire product line, we knew we wanted to partner with Purpletale and bring their products to all of you! We’ve been so inspired by Young-Ji and her empowering story that we wanted to share the scoop on how she started this journey and what you can expect to see from this growing k-beauty brand in 2017.

<< 3B>>: Young-Ji, we’ve chatted about this before, but for fans who are just getting to know Purpletale, what inspired you start a skincare company?

<< Young Ji>> it’s been so fun working with you guys! Honestly, Purpletale was born as a function of opportunity. When I was working at Samsung, k-beauty caught my eye. I wasn’t necessarily using Korean beauty products myself, actually – I was buying products in the US and bringing them back to Korea! I started researching local products and got really sucked into the industry. I thought about going down the e-commerce or distribution path, but it just wasn’t my passion. I was living in Korea and it was just the right time combined with having a supportive family! I started going to labs and factories and learning more, building relationships and that’s how it all started!

 << 3B>>: Tell us a bit about how you formulated your first products – what’s special about them?

<< Young Ji>> The product development process is HARD! We’re really focused on ingredients and we have products with great formulations, but that also means we’re really strict throughout product development. I wanted us to simplify skincare and have a few products that made sense in everyone’s routine. We started with a lot of market research to better understand what customers were looking for. Then we would move on to ingredients we definitely wanted to avoid or those we definitely wanted to include. For each product we would start with 10 completely different formulations, and then go through several rounds of customer testing (and of course I test all the products too!). One part of the development process I really enjoy is creating packaging. I’ve always loved the color purple so I knew I wanted that to be front and center for our brand. I wanted our products to stand out on retail shelves, so we went with the cylinder shape instead of the standard square boxes, and finally – I think skincare needs to be fun, so we had a lot of fun with the way we named our products. As a first time entrepreneur, I can tell you there were challenges along the way - from how we labelled each batch, to when packaging is ordered. Larger companies can turn new products around in as little as eight weeks but for us this process takes around six months. Despite the challenges, the process is something I’ve really learned to enjoy!

<< 3B>>: It must be so rewarding to see the finished product! Do you remember your first ‘magic moment’?

<< Young Ji>> It is, and absolutely I do.  I remember seeing the very first prototype of our first product. I’ll never forget the overwhelming joy I experienced just to hold it in my hands. It was so different from working with all the lab samples in clear containers and batch numbers. My very first shipment of 5 Steps to Lovely Skin had only 200 units in it, and I remember opening that first box and that’s when I knew it was really real.

<< 3B>>:  That’s incredible!! And now you’re shipping all over the world!! Having formulated the products in the Korea and now moving to the US to focus on the US market what are the major differences you see?

<< Young Ji>>: It’s interesting, in Korea we had a lot of interest just from being new, but also – consumers there are super savvy. They know what they want and what to look for. We had a really great reception because our brand stood out as being different from the thousands of other brands on retail shelves. In the US, what I personally love is that our naming really lands well with customers. We have some work to do on educating customers about our brand and why we’ve been so selective about the ingredients, but the initial feedback has been really positive!

<< 3B>>: I know it’s hard to pick favorites, so we won’t ask you to, but is there a product your most proud of?

<< Young Ji>>: They’re all my favorites! Truly, the product I’m most proud of is the Ode to Hydration cream. I get so much consistent feedback from customers about how well it lives up to its name, and that’s the biggest personal compliment. I don’t think it’s easy to get excited about a moisturizer, so for people to share that enthusiasm is really exciting for me!

<< 3B>>: Are there any new favorites that we can expect in 2017?!

<< Young Ji>>: We’re always working on something new! We’re expanding our availability across retail shelves starting with some chains in New York, and we’re looking at some national retailers as well. We’re working on new products, and have been formulating an ampoule and cleanser, and we’re actually shifting towards getting a greener formulation for our entire portfolio!

<< 3B>>: We can’t wait to try your new products, and really love that you’re continuing to innovate on already amazing products to bring eco-friendly formulations to market. Where did the impetus to do that come from? Are there brands or people that inspire you?


<< Young Ji>>
: We’ve always been really selective about the ingredients we put in our products, and increasingly as we speak to our customers, they’re becoming more conscious about going green, so it’s our responsibility to provide great products that are also environmentally friendly! I’ve really enjoyed getting educated in this area and bringing that healthy lifestyle and mindset not just to my personal life, but also to the products we make! When it comes to shopping skincare, I definitely pick and choose my favorites from different lines, but it’s hard to keep a solid routine and experiment while I’m trying to stay educated on all the different products and also test out our own innovations! My real inspiration comes from other entrepreneurs. I love reading about their stories, and learning from their path. Owner stories that really resonate with me include Tatcha, Tata Harper, and Pur Lisse. I love keeping up with smaller brands and companies as well because I think we can all learn from each other.

<< 3B>>: As a young entrepreneur – do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs’?  

<< Young Ji>>: I know that you know this from starting 3B, but taking the plunge to leave a corporate role to start your own business can be really scary! I think its important to go in eyes wide open – it’s a lot harder than you initially think it’ll be so it’s important to have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish and where you want to go. Having worked on Purpletale for a few years now, the other thing that I think is important is getting comfortable with asking for help and making mistakes along the way. It’s something I really struggled with early on!

Thank you Young-Ji for taking the time to share your story with us, and for extending a special offer to our fans! If you're looking to get your hands on some of Young Ji's amazing products check out our sale here, and to learn more about Purpletale and Korean Skincare check out their  site.

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