Business partners Joseph Choi and Vera Oh are today known for being the founders of skincare company Voesh New York (the moniker is a hybrid of Vera and Joseph’s names). But the pair once worked together at a successful electronics firm, where they developed a portable device accessory brand. Within five years, that brand made $55 million in revenue. Together, by applying what they had learned from the world of consumer electronics to the beauty industry, the duo created a fresh skincare company that prides itself on using effective ingredients. Here, CEO Joseph Choi shares how he turned his dream of creating an innovative brand into a reality.
Beauty Store Business: What inspired you to create skincare products?
Joseph Choi: In 2010, [Vera and I] founded Voesh New York on the basic principle of creating a hygienic, easy, luxurious spa experience. After we left an electronics company, we looked for a new industry we love: the beauty industry.
Korean skin care, at the time, was on the rise, so we decided to research what made Korean skin care so much more desirable. We learned about the ingredients used, the products offered and the cleanliness of the products. We took those fundamental ideas and created a new product concept for an industry that desperately needed innovation. The spa industry had not experienced a change in a long time. The single-use, mood-enhancing spa products, redeveloped, addressed everything we thought needed a revamp: the cleanliness, the ease of use and the quality of the products.
“You’ll always make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and to believe in yourself.”
How are Voesh New York’s products unique?
The products we offer address every problem that we thought the spa industry was plagued by. More specifically, the problems with ease of use, inventory management, hygienic products and the number of products needed. [Voesh’s] Pedi in a Box, Mani in a Box and Collagen Gloves and Socks, solved these issues all at once. Everything is single-use, individually packaged, vegan, paraben-free and toxin-free.
The single-use concept made inventory management and cost analysis simple. It also ensures each product is clean, since the product is only being used on one customer. The ingredients we use go through rigorous research to meet our high formulation standards to create a quality spa product and experience.
What were the first products to debut, and how were they formulated?
The first products to debut were the Collagen Gloves and Socks. We made sure to focus on only safe and natural ingredients. We hired a Korean lab to create a formulation with those principles in mind. We then put that formulation through dermatology tests to make sure it worked correctly. We proudly tout that every product in our lineup has gone through the same testing, creating a product line that’s free of any parabens, toxins and petroleum- derived ingredients.
How many SKUs does the company have, and what’s the best-selling item?
We currently have 26 SKUs. Our best-selling items are the Pedi in a Box 4 Step. They include a salt soak, 100-percent sugar scrub, mud masque and massage butter in the scent of your choice.
What are some of your goals for the future?
Long term, we would like to focus on products that are not only hygienic and safe but also eco-friendly and sustainable. A sustainable product line is something we strive for, as the environment is a big passion for us.
What have been your most memorable moments as a CEO?
One of our career highlights was when we were able to set up distribution channels across the U.S. and internationally—more specifically, over 20 international distribution channels. Another big highlight was when we started to sponsor New York Fashion Week. It has been a big step for us in terms of brand publicity and recognition.
How have the nail and salon industries changed in recent years?
We have seen that our ideals for cleanliness and safety have really spread throughout the industry. Customers have also been more responsive, with more and more spas joining social media sites and review sites. Overall, it has become much more communicative and, in effect, a better industry.
“We have curated and developed the best facial products for anyone that wants to treat themselves at home.”
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge we have faced is people trying to copy our single-use concept. We spent a lot of time and effort developing these products and to have them be copied can be very discouraging. However, we quickly learned to deal with these copycats. It has actually become quite beneficial. First, we filed utility patents for our whole lineup. Then, we started to develop our products more quickly, while maintaining the high quality.
What are your plans for the company for 2018?
We have recently launched our new face skincare line with the same single-use concept. It is called SkinForum. It is a six-step facial in a box. We have curated and developed the best facial products for anyone that wants to treat themselves at home. We have spent over two years developing the right formulations, putting it through dermatology tests and international and domestic registrations. But finally, it is ready to be unveiled.
What advice can you offer other entrepreneurs in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll always make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and to believe in yourself. Find your own creative solutions to problems you encounter. Don’t be afraid of competition either. Learn to live with it. Study them and learn to be better.