Hitting The Mark
Conversations with founders and investors about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success with your host, brand strategist and author Fabian Geyrhalter.
EP072 – Savor Beauty: Angela Jia Kim, Founder
Angela Jia Kim founded Savor Beauty with a strong brand ethos inspired by a career as a concert pianist.
What caught my eye about Angela’s brand was how she checks off all the boxes a brand in her space should, and she does it seemingly with ease: farm-fresh small-batch organic products, cutting-edge technology, 100% non-toxic clean formulas, made locally, supporting various deserving communities, cruelty-free testing, minority-owned, et cetera, et cetera.
And Angela understands that her brand ethos is the guiding light that makes all the difference in the why, the what, and the how of her brand. A wonderful episode, also because she shares with us how the person who sued her over her brand name gave her transformational business advice.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Welcome to the show, Angela.
Angela Kim: It’s such a pleasure to be here, Fabian.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Oh, likewise. It’s so great having you. Let’s start with that evening where you were on stage as a concert pianist and you accidentally originated the need for your brand, Savor Beauty + Spa. What happened that night? Tell us that story.
Angela Kim: Well, like all things, it started from an itch. So I just put on this “natural” lotion all over my body before a performance and I started breaking out into hives, much to my dismay. It’s really embarrassing when you are uncomfortably red in front of an audience of hundreds, so it very humiliating. I decided to look at the list of ingredients after the concert to see what was in it that made me have this allergic reaction. I was really shocked to find out how many chemicals were in this so-called natural formula. That was really the fateful event that started something actually really wonderful, of a fantastic journey.
Fabian Geyrhalter: That is unbelievable. I mean, I think that the best products and the best brands are created out of a necessity that one feels, but it is shocking to hear, even though it’s not quite shocking to hear since I did learn about this before, but the idea of clean products in the beauty space. It’s not really monitored, right? I mean, it’s kind of like a label that is not like fair trade in the coffee space or in the food space. It’s something that people kind of use a little bit arbitrarily. When you had that “natural”, potentially even clean product and as a consumer, you trusted it based on what it portrayed, was that a big concern afterwards where you kind of looked into how do beauty brands brand themselves, maybe even wrongfully so, and how can you do it in a different way?
Angela Kim: Well, okay, this is a fantastic question. So I started over a decade ago in my kitchen making lotions and potions, and my whole thing was at the time, believe it or not, there weren’t a lot of clean beauty brands. There was either Vermont mom and pops kind of brands, and then there was Christian Dior and so I really wanted to create something for my mom and me and my sisters that was luxurious, but also efficacious and was anti-aging and all of that. So I’m Korean, and as you may know, Korean women are really obsessed with skincare. So I grew up with my mom getting all of these creams that were made from like pigeon poop, gold flecks, whatever, you name it, these exotic, crazy ingredients from her Korean sisters. So I grew up with that and I was like, “Well, mom, I want to make something that’s equally amazing, but I want it to be organic and natural.”
So I had a picky audience of these Korean … my Korean mom and my Korean sisters, and I started making these lotions and potions and I would send it to them. I kid you not, the first 1000 formulas were like, “No, no, no, no.”
Fabian Geyrhalter: Oh, wow.
Angela Kim: Yeah. So we mentioned I was a concert pianist. I know you know this, we were talking earlier from your background, classical musicians are used to repeating things over and over again. So that’s what I was used to doing, is just getting up every day, I had no qualms about it, I would just make the next batch of lotion and I would improve it every single time, and that’s really how … I started to give them as gifts to friends and they started to say, “Oh my God, this is amazing. I want to give this as a gift to my other friends.” But to answer your question, I really had to hand pick ingredients that were of natural origins, such as sunflower seed oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, raspberry seed, pumpkin seed, truffle extract, all of these really wonderful, very nutritious nourishing oils, and I started to blend them together with essential oils.
So that to me is very clean. Also, at the time, there weren’t a lot of natural preservatives on the market at the time. So there was just a lot of experimentation I had to do. I eventually started working with a holistic chemist and we started coming up with more advanced formulas. But to me, that’s really important that each of the ingredients are chosen with a lot of thought curated by me and my mom, and now my team of beauty experts.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Now that you’re out on the market, do you look at other beauty products and you sometimes quietly roll your eyes the way that they describe the product? You’re like, “Well, maybe that is not 100% the truth that they’re selling.”
Angela Kim: All the time, but I don’t roll my eyes because I feel like every brand has its own … every brand that I see right now, they have really beautiful stories as well. So I try to learn from each of the brands. The ones that are obviously the big corporation brands where they’re trying so hard just to do something, that’s when I start to feel like, “Oh, this just doesn’t feel as authentic. They’re just trying to jump on a train.”
Fabian Geyrhalter: Totally, totally. I’m glad you differentiated from the smaller brands that have amazing stories, and brands these days have amazing stories because that’s what customers want. Right? So differentiating that from the big guys who try to look authentic and clean and who knows what? And some of them might be, right? But your products are made fresh and correct me if I’m wrong with that, if you still do this, but it’s fascinating. They’re made fresh every morning in New York City, right?
Angela Kim: Not in New York City. So it’s in Hudson Valley. It’s in the Kingston area, so in New York. So when we were starting to grow, we decided to open up a production facility for women. I hired women and trained them to make the products. So that’s where they’re made. It’s about an hour and a half north of New York City.
Fabian Geyrhalter: See, that’s what happens when you talk to someone from the West Coast. I’m like, “It’s all part of New York City, really.” Well let’s talk about this initiative a little bit more. It’s called Dollars and Scents, scents as an S-C-E-N-T-S, where you hire women who are transitioning back into the workforce by giving them training and tools to develop these new skills. They make and ship the beauty creams fresh from the Hudson Valley. Right?
Angela Kim: Yes.
Fabian Geyrhalter: What sparked you to create the initiative and how difficult was it to get it off the ground. Right? Because it’s amazing, but I’m sure there’s a lot of work that goes into making this happen.
Angela Kim: Well, so not … Okay. First of all, I think whenever something feels authentic and comes from an authentic place, it’s natural branding, it’s a natural … I feel like you become a lighthouse for people who are on the same page and are aligned with your mission. So let me back up a little bit and tell you the reason I started this program. So my father passed away when I was 13 and we lived in Iowa and very few Asians lived in Iowa at the time. My mom now is a single mom, and she really needed to pick us up from school at three o’clock. She didn’t have the means to have someone else do it, but she couldn’t find an employer that was understanding of that. She was trying to find jobs. I felt so bad as I saw her struggle to try to find a job where she had an empathetic and understanding employer.
So that’s the mission and the philosophy behind the Dollars and Scents program. I really wanted to create a flexible work situation for people I can, for employees who could determine their hours so that if they have children, they could work around it. Then it branched out to, “Well, what about women who don’t have children, but want to transition into a new work situation after …” Maybe they want to have a career change. So we take them and we train them and we give them the second chance.
Fabian Geyrhalter: That is amazing. That is really, really wonderful. Putting this program into place, was it challenging at times, or did you work with a partner agency that does this sort of thing?
Angela Kim: No, it was called Craigslist.
Fabian Geyrhalter: So it was challenging.
Angela Kim: No, no, no. I just put an ad out on Craigslist and we just naturally found people who were in that situation, and it’s not like we announced we’re only going to hire … we try to hire the best person suited for the job, but we have a very special interest in helping women who are in that situation just because it’s really … it’s my mom who’s the muse.
Fabian Geyrhalter: That’s lovely and I think it is so interesting because with your brand, your heritage is very important to the brand. I mean, from your upbringing, even the last eight minutes or so we talked already a lot about this, right? The Korean culture, your past as a concert pianist. Would you advise other founders to incorporate their past into the future of the brand? Does it convey authenticity or could it be also putting them at risk if they put too much emphasis on the founder, and let’s say they’re moving on or there’s an acquisition or something like that, or in some cases telling a story that may actually not connect as naturally to the brand, as is the case with yours. Right?
I just wonder, because sometimes I see it with brands like yours, where it is just … I mean, it is deeply ingrained, right? Savor equals you. Right? And it’s beautiful and it really works well. But do you think it would always work well? Or do you think that that is something … did you have some experience where you feel like for some founders that most probably might not be the right direction?
Angela Kim: I think like anything, there is no magic formula that you can blanket across the board. I can speak from my experience. Actually, it’s interesting that you bring this up because when I first branched from being a concert pianist to being an entrepreneur, Fabian, I think you’ll really relate to this, when you’re a serious classical musician, you really need to give the impression that you’re dedicating your life, heart, mind, and soul to Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt and you’re practicing sometimes up to hours a day, touring, grueling tours. So when I first started, I did not use my real name. Well, I used my married name. I didn’t want to put Angela Kim out there and I didn’t want to put a personality behind the brand because I was really nervous that the classical music world would find out about it.
So there was a point where I hid a lot. I will tell you that the brand really took off when I started to own the Korean piece of it and be really honest that, yes, my mom was my muse and yes, I grew up with Korean beauty rituals and yes, I was a concert pianist. So a lot of the things that you see in our branding has musical notations in it. So I think it gave the brand a personality. It made it stand out and it really helped us to take off. Also, there was a part of me, because I grew up in Iowa, that little bit ashamed of being Korean because that’s how I grew up. It’s like we were made fun of, and there was a lot of racism. So it was hard for me to own it. So when I did, it was sort of a personal becoming, and also a brand becoming its full potential.
So I think in my case, it was a very powerful lesson in authenticity, in owning the treasures that are yours and in valuing it and bringing it to the forefront. Then it gives personality that people can remember. So they say, “Oh, Savor Beauty.” That’s that numbered system. It’s numbered because … they don’t know why it’s numbered. But because I was a musician, I’m very rhythmic. One, two, three, four. So we have a five step system and everything is numbered. That comes from my musical heritage. The Korean comes from my mom and her beauty lessons. So these are things that give stories and roots and meaning and authenticity and people feel it. Right?
Fabian Geyrhalter: Absolutely.
Angela Kim: I would say branding is a lot like being at a party and you meet all these people. When you hear stories, you can feel when somebody is really being authentic and sincere and you want to know more. It’s interesting, right? Already, when you were telling me we were having this conversation before we hopped on to this call and you were telling me about your father and that he was a concert master of the Vienna Philharmonic, and that’s so interesting. If we were at a party, I would ask you many more questions about that. That’s interesting. But if you don’t share that part of your story, I don’t have any way to connect with you.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Exactly. No, I love that. I love that analogy, because it is so true. Right? I mean, look at your brand in the K-beauty space. I mean, the K-beauty space, it used to be small. It’s huge today, right? I mean, it’s such a big … and maybe I know that because I’m married to a Korean woman. It’s a big, big space and just for you to stand out in that space, which is already a niche space, takes a lot. So the idea of really thinking about who you are as a person and what you want to convey in a brand, and then doing weird things like using staff, the five lines that hold musical notes, right? Using those and a splash of pink and you immediately get an idea of, “Oh, there’s more to that story.”
People might not immediately understand it, but they will once they read more into the brand, once they become more familiar with the brand. I think to a certain extent that is not something that a brand agency does. Right? I mean, that is something that you slowly, as the founder, you bring in a couple of elements that you feel confident about, or in your case, you didn’t feel confident about it in the beginning and you felt like this is a push and you actually need to do this for yourself because you wanted to be authentic. I think it’s beautiful and the more founders that I talk to, especially the ones that start like you in the kitchen or wherever, self-funded, just doing the grind, putting the money in and hoping for the best. Right?
For all of them, that’s what worked, right? To be their authentic self and that actually helps them break through the noise. Right? So I’m curious, on your website, you have a section about causes that the brand supports, and it has a lot of amazing causes on there. In what ways do you as a brand prefer to give back to these causes, right? Is it a portion of sales, of proceeds, or do you do it via specific campaigns? Because there are so many ways to do this and I’m always curious to learn when people weigh into this, when they lean into this, what actually works for them? How do they like to give back as a brand?
Angela Kim: Well, yes, a portion of proceeds goes to any one of these given brands at a certain specific time. Also, I think by shining light to it, we will highlight it on our social channels, we’ll put it in our newsletters, we put it on our website, I think by saying we stand behind these, we vetted them, we believe in what they’re doing and they’re aligned with how our heart beats, I think that those are the ways in which we can stand behind and shine a spotlight on these amazing organizations.
Fabian Geyrhalter: I really like this because on the one hand, I’m interested in how it works best for a brand. But on the other hand, by you just putting out all of these organizations that at one point your brand stood behind and was actually putting their money towards, it shows your values without you spelling out your values. It says, “This is who we are as a brand. These are the causes that we support. Hence, these are the kind of people that we are.” Then subliminally, it means, “Well, if you like that and if you buy into this, you might like us.” Right? I mean, there’s this shared values idea that comes through, and I like that. Right? Because just again, it’s extremely authentic, but you’re doing it in a way where it’s not on the nose, but people feel like, “Oh yeah, you know what? These causes are great,” and I subliminally start liking these people more and, and this brand more, because this speaks to me. Right? Which is really beautiful. Yeah.
Angela Kim: Right. Yeah. No, I think a lot of it is when there’s a current movement happening, oftentimes you don’t know what to do to help. When Black Lives Matter was happening, when stop Asian Hate was at its height, these kinds of things, sometimes you just don’t know how to help. So one way that we try to help is by finding organizations that are actually rolling up their sleeve and making a dent and making its mark. So by us donating but also by highlighting, I think it helps other people to say, “Oh, okay, I can support this as well.”
Fabian Geyrhalter: I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, even me as a very small brand consultancy, I used to run an agency, it was a pretty decent size and now it’s a very small consultancy. I prefer it that way, but it’s a very, very small shop. Even I started doing something like that on our website where we basically … we say we pledge 1% or more to organizations that we believe in, and I actually have a full on accountability report on the website that really lists, “Okay, this is how much we donated to Stop AAPI Hate. This is how much we donated to Afghan aid and Doctors Without Borders and all of this.” It’s not a lot of money, but I feel that it also, in a way, subliminally helps me kind of weed out my potential clients.
It’s like people come to the website, they see that and they’re like, “Oh, Stop AAPI Hate? Oh, weird. I’m not into that. Maybe I shouldn’t work with them.” I’m like, “Yes, maybe you shouldn’t.” And that’s totally fine. Right? So in a way, it kind of helps me a little bit select my own audience. I think that in a way, that’s what happens with brands, too. Whatever causes the stand behind, it is also a declaration of what they believe in and who their tribe should be or will be. Not trying to exclude anyone of course. Right?
Angela Kim: Right. That’s very interesting. I like that as well. That’s a very … I call it being a lighthouse. I think I referred to that term earlier. When you’re the lighthouse and what you’re doing is you’re lighthousing yourself. Right? You are saying, |I stand for this,” and so your like-minded people will find you, and those who are not, won’t.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Exactly. Exactly. I think it helps everyone. It helps everyone involved.
Angela Kim: Yeah. I love that.
Fabian Geyrhalter: So Savor Beauty is… I mean, you’re an established brand now, you’re doing a lot of things that the next generation deeply cares about and you do them perfectly right. We talked about the clean formulas, you do small batches, it’s made locally, you support not only various causes, but also various deserving communities. It’s cruelty-free testing, et cetera, et cetera. Right? This can go on for half an hour, which is amazing and congratulations to running a brand this way. Right? Because a lot of other founders would aspire to that.
Angela Kim: Thank you. Thank you.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Absolutely. Which of these, or perhaps something else that I didn’t mention in my list, did you see was the most important to your customers, or which of these business decisions are you getting the most positive feedback for from your customers?
Angela Kim: Well, I think that’s a very good question, to see what are they responding to. I really feel like there’s a clean energy to the brand because everything trickles from the top. I feel that people really resonates with … I don’t know. For example, we sent out a self-love message recently on 9/11 and it was a meditation poem that I had written.
Fabian Geyrhalter: I saw it. I actually saw it. Yeah.
Angela Kim: You did?
Fabian Geyrhalter: It was wonderful.
Angela Kim: Oh my gosh. Okay. Yes. Thank you so much. We got a huge, enormous reaction to it. People were sending us emails thanking us, saying it really touched them, that it was a very healing meditation for them to read. So I think we have a very strong self care, self love message that really pulls us through and almost supersedes anything that we do. I know this gets a little bit maybe woo-woo and a little cheesy, but it’s something that really … and I say cheesy because this is something I did not believe in even five years ago, that when you take care of yourself and you genuinely love yourself enough to make … I call self love an action for which your future self thanks you. So when you take your time to do your beauty rituals, when you take the time to create boundaries for yourself, when you create the time to turn off your phone and really spend time with your family or your loved ones or by yourself, and do a yoga meditation or do something that’s good for you, you’re taking care of yourself and you’re loving yourself, and this in turn allows you to take care of others.
So in some ways that’s been my renaissance, my revelation, my revolution, and I think people feel it and that pulses through the brand and that really permeates into our spas where our clients, our guests, come in and they get their facials every month. Then we’re trying to teach them, “Yes, the product’s important, but taking time for yourself is even more important.” So does that answer your question or was that so esoteric?
Fabian Geyrhalter: Well, my listeners would know there is no cap for anything being too esoteric for me, because usually there’s a lot of brand truth in that. So I’m absolutely … No, I totally agree. I mean, back to your post that you mentioned on 9/11, which we record this just a couple of days after 9/11, and I caught it and you know what it was? It was thoughtful and it was thoughtful in just this bombardment of 9/11 messages where every brand almost felt like, “Oh, it’s pumpkin season, Halloween. We got to do something for Halloween.” You know what I mean?
It’s in the calendar. You got to check it off. You got to write something about it and everyone just posted their typical message, and yours was … You actually sat that down. You know what I mean? You sat down and you put thought into it. Surprisingly, that is not something that happens often on Instagram and TikTok where we get bombarded by these messages, but actually someone really … you can sense that someone actually sat down and wrote something just for me, just for the person on the other side. I think back to the origins of my question, of all these initiatives and all of these good things that you do with your brand, what is the one thing that really bubbled to the top? I think you said it nicely, right? It’s that caring part that comes from the top and yes, there are all of these initiatives that I can name, but in reality, it’s the sum of all parts, right? Really where people feel like they’re being cared for, which is difficult to do and I know it must have taken you a little bit of time to get there.
Angela Kim: Yeah. So then let me tell you that … just to kind of pull it out into a more practicable lesson here. So the self love, the taking care of yourself, the self care, then you can take care of others. Do you know what I mean? You can really take care of your employees. You can take care … We were talking about the charitable causes. We can give our small donation to these charitable causes. We can build out a program like the Dollars and Scents and take care of the products that we’re selling to our customers worldwide. So I think it just comes from that really important seed, you know?
Fabian Geyrhalter: Yeah. Yeah.
Angela Kim: I think our customers can feel that, and so when you ask, “Well, which makes the most difference?” I think all of it does, but it comes from a very strong seed that we’ve planted.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, let’s talk about the seed that was planted. Let’s go all the way back. I heard somewhere in one of your interviews that when you opened shop, when you opened a spa, you were pretty lonely for the first couple days.
Angela Kim: Yes. Yes.
Fabian Geyrhalter: It’s fun to talk about it now because you flipped this around very nicely and very quickly, and nothing happens overnight they say, but yet you opened the door of your store overnight and you assumed something will happen. But how long did it take you to feel like, and this might be months, this might be years, where you felt like, “You know what? This little startup of mine, where I made these creams in the kitchen, and then I brought them into the store …” and however it started, when was that moment where you said to yourself, “You know what, I think that this might be a brand now. I think we made it. This is a breakthrough.” What was a big breakthrough moment?
Angela Kim: So when I first started, I called my brand Om Aroma because I was really into yoga and I was like, “Om,” right? And then I love aroma therapy. So I called it Om Aroma. So the moment that I think things started to … I was like, “Okay, this is more than a hobby,” because at first it was sort of I was dabbling. I was like, “I’m just taking a break from my piano career and I’m just going to try this out.” I wasn’t that serious. But I think the moment that I realized, “Okay, this is a brand,” was when we got sued.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Oh, that’s a good sign. Now it’s serious.
Angela Kim: Yes, so someone’s paying attention. So there was another brand that felt that our names were too similar. They were like, “You have to change your name.” It was kind of like giving your child a name. You don’t want to change the name. I was very attached to the name. So long story short, I was struggling with it and I was very worried about it and at first I started to fight it. Then the owner of the other brand, we decided to settle, and so we met at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Time Warner in New York City and we were overlooking Central Park and he just turned to me, the guy who’s suing me and I kept saying to him, “Listen, we’re not in the same space. I’m not a spa. I’m just doing the products. We’re product based. We do some facials, but we’re not a spa.”
He turned to me and he said, “Just own it, Angela. You do have a spa and you are going to grow and so own it.” I just sat back and I was like, “Huh.” So then I came back and that’s when I decided, “Okay, fine, you get the name. I’m just going to change the name to Savor, Savor Beauty.” It eventually became Savor Beauty and I’ll just be fine with it. That’s when we took off because his advice to me was fantastic. Yes, I should own it. So that’s when we became a facial spa, we really owned that and then with the product line, we opened up other facial spas and it just really took off from there.
Fabian Geyrhalter: That is such an amazing story.
Angela Kim: Yeah. I will tell you that my little boutique spa in the West village, that they felt the need to sue, which I’m glad they did, now I’m glad they did, it’s 450 square feet, Fabian. It’s a tiny, tiny jewel box. It’s in West 11th Street and I know you probably don’t know New York City very well, but it’s between Washington and Greenwich and it’s just very far away. There are a lot of celebrities that live there because nobody walks there because there aren’t a lot of passers-by.
Fabian Geyrhalter: So I heard.
Angela Kim: There’s just a lot of traffic. Yeah. But before COVID hit us, we were a million dollar operation per square foot. We were doing more than Apple stores. You know what I mean? So that’s the kind of thing that we were resisting, and then once we started owning it, I decided to own the concert piano piece of the story and the Korean beauty piece of the story, we really took off. So all of these things of owning what makes you special, unique, and different. Sometimes what you resist is a little opening. It could give you a little clue to an opening that you’re meant to explore, and who knows? The thing that you’re resisting could be your blocker, right?
Fabian Geyrhalter: That’s so good, Angela. I mean, just the idea that the person who sues you gives you great advice is such a nice little shine to light into the business world, right? And how you never know where your next pivot comes from and where your next big advice comes from. It’s such a great story. If we look at the Savor Beauty brand, I know you’re big into the idea of brand ethos and kind of feeling a brand and defining it in one or two words, or really thinking about … if you take Savor Beauty and you would distill it down to one or two words, what would that be? What would those words be that you would use to describe the DNA of the brand, the feeling of the brand?
Angela Kim: Well, radiance rituals. Our rituals help you to become radiant. Beyond that, I’ve simplified the Korean beauty into five easy numbered steps. So less is more. So you don’t need to think about it. So I really think it’s a minimalist approach to beauty, but then there’s the radiance rituals that I think Savor Beauty is the portal to really carving out time for your rituals that help you to become more radiant. In fact, I’m coming out with a book called Radical Radiance, and it’s 12 weeks of self love rituals. So I say I started with skincare, but it goes further and deeper than that.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Well, yeah, you used to run and Savor the Success, which was an organization that helped women-owned sustainable businesses grow. Right? Now you’re running Savor Beauty Planner, which sells customizable life planners. So it just makes sense. Right? It all comes back to something that is much bigger than a line of skincare. Right? It’s really an ethos and I love hearing about your book. This is going to be great. Congratulations.
Angela Kim: Thank you so much. Oh, my dog agrees with you.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Yes, of course. He’s like, “It’s PR time.” When is it going to be released?
Angela Kim: June 14th, 2022.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Perfect. Excellent. Very good. I know we talked a lot. We talked about branding. You shared with us the idea that branding is a lot like people at a party, right? Who do you actually gravitate towards? Who do you want to talk to? Who actually grabs your attention for the long term? Would you have any piece of brand advice that we didn’t talk about yet for founders as a takeaway who maybe listen to your story? Is there anything from a brand perspective where you just feel like, “Hey, here’s something I’ve done and I shouldn’t have done,” or, “Here’s something that I’m currently doing that I think that people might appreciate.”
Angela Kim: Okay. Well, I think branding … Let’s come full circle when you ask me the question, “Does your story matter? ” I think the story does matter, especially for the small business entrepreneur. It really does matter. As a matter of fact, look at Facebook’s founder and wasn’t his story so crucial to the whole thing, right? Yeah. He wanted to connect in his college dorm room. So I think the story is really important because maybe your ethos, your brand ethos, maybe the way the brand visuals, maybe things will shift over time, but if you can stay connected to that deeper mission, that deeper, authentic reason of why, the deeper ethos, the philosophy, why are you doing what you’re doing, the brand will always stand strong and be that lighthouse that we talked about to connect to the customers that really need the healing of what you’re offering. Right? The solutions or the healing of what you’re offering.
I think it’s really important that that becomes the forefront of everything you do. It makes you make better daily decisions on which employees do you want to hire? Which employees do you want to keep, which employees do you want to invest in? It helps you decide how to do customer service issues. How do you want to present yourself? What’s your brand voice? These are very important, I would say, first of line duties that you have when you’re building your business.
Fabian Geyrhalter: I love this so much because I mean, this is literally what I do day in, day out with founders and with CMOs. It’s going right back to that. It’s interesting. Every Thursday I put out what I call a brand therapy Thursday post. So I write one quick piece a week because I’m not going to write a book every week. So I write one quick piece that hopefully is somewhat profound, and for tomorrow, since we are recording this on a Wednesday, for tomorrow, it is pretty much summarizing what you just said. It states the following. I say, “Once you truly understand who you are as a brand,” so your brand DNA or essence, “Something magical happens. Branding, marketing, and company culture all fall into place, almost effortlessly, defined by a common ideology that is bigger than the company’s commercial offering.” This is literally a summary of what you just said. I mean, this is basically-
Angela Kim: Yeah, that’s exactly it.
Fabian Geyrhalter: I love it because you have done this for a good amount of time now and it takes time for people to actually really understand that in business, as a brand, that you need to have that. It’s Simon Sinek’s why, right? You need to have that answer to the why. All right. Good. Well, with that being said, let’s talk it about what’s next. I mean, we know there’s a book coming out. That’s amazing. That’s in the summer of next year.
Angela Kim: Yes.
Fabian Geyrhalter: What’s next for the Savor Beauty brand? What are you excited about in the next six months?
Angela Kim: Okay. I’ll tell you that post-COVID, even though we’re not super post-COVID, everything is still a little wonky and crazy, here in New York City, things are reopening. So we are reopening our spas and I’m very back to where the pre-COVID glory, those days. So rebuilding is very interesting to me with a different approach. I want it to be more from the approach of slow success. A lot of people talk about fast success. I am trying to go a little bit slower and make more meaningful decisions along the way and make sure that we’ve got the right people on board. So we’re doing that. I am moving as we speak. Actually today, right before this interview, I closed on my apartment on the Upper West Side and I’m moving to another apartment.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Oh, wow.
Angela Kim: Yeah. So on a personal level, just starting a new life in a different neighborhood in New York City, so I’m very excited about that. Yeah. We’re putting a lot of emphasis and resources into our e-com and building that out.
Fabian Geyrhalter: I figured that’s what would happen, right? Because I mean, you started as an in-store brand, then suddenly it’s D2C, and that’s a whole different competitive environment, but it’s also extremely … I mean, it’s an amazing opportunity, right? Especially if you already have a fan base.
Angela Kim: Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I forgot this. We’re also partnering with a lot of spas. So when COVID happened and the closures happened, all spas closed. So now it’s just a matter of revamping our partnerships with all of the spas.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. Perfect. Well, listen, how can people follow you either personally or get to know your skincare line? Where can they go on online to do a deep dive after this interview?
Angela Kim: Yeah. So savorbeauty.com, and then it’s @savorbeauty. If you want to connect with me personally, I’m @angelajiakim on Instagram.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Perfect. Excellent. Well, listen, I can’t believe you took out almost an hour of your time during your moving day to be here with us to talk about your brand and give advice on branding. We so appreciate it. Thank you so much for the time.
Angela Kim: Oh, thank you so much for the time, Fabian. I have to say thank you so much for doing so much research and coming to this interview with so many thoughts preformed. I really appreciate that.
Fabian Geyrhalter: Oh, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Angela Kim: Thank you.