Liah Yoo of Krave Beauty
Meet Liah Yoo, Influencer, Skincare Youtuber, and Founder of Krave Beauty, a K-Beauty skincare brand that’s bringing an intentional approach to a fast-paced beauty industry. Having started her eponymous YouTube channel 6 years ago, Liah has grown an audience of over 600,000 subscribers, offering weekly videos filled with skincare tips, product reviews, vlogs, and more. In December 2017, Yoo launched Krave Beauty with only two products, a hydrating cleanser and an exfoliating toner, a minimalistic update on the 10-step skincare routines Korean skincare is known for. A year later, the Krave Beauty has expanded to include an antioxidant-infused SPF, and a scented candle inspired by their bestselling Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser.
We sat down with Liah to talk all thing Krave Beauty. Keep reading to learn more about how she balances being a content creator, influencer, and entrepreneur, how she built a company without an MBA, and what podcasts she listens to!
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
What inspired you to start Krave Beauty?
“There were multiple reasons, but the main one was that throughout my YouTube career, I’ve been interacting with my subscribers every single day, and when I uploaded a lot of acne skincare-related tips and content on YouTube, the reoccurring pattern that I was seeing among my subscribers was how lost and overwhelmed they felt with skincare. They didn’t know where to start when building a skincare routine. So I felt there was something lacking in the beauty industry. The majority of my subscribers are people who have already tried everything and haven’t really seen results, and they’re disappointed because of the over-promising claims and all of the marketing claims that lured them into buying products that haven’t really delivered results. So I figured there needs to be a skincare brand that’s more transparent and that has good intentions to guide people to figure out what’s wrong with their skin, and to really educate consumers on their skin needs and encourage them to listen to what their skin’s true cravings are. That prompted me to start Krave Beauty.”
Tell me more about Krave Beauty. What’s the brand’s philosophy?
“Krave Beauty is definitely a skincare brand for someone who is very overwhelmed in regards to skincare, and we guide people to press reset on everything that the broken beauty industry has told them that their skin needs. That’s our philosophy, and we don’t really believe in applying a lot of products because we strongly believe that our skin is naturally really smart and knows how to regulate itself and how to produce oil when it’s dehydrated and dry and it knows how to regenerate itself when there’s a cut or a wound in the skin. All of the topical skincare products are pretty supplementary, and we wanted to create skincare products that worked with the skin, not against the skin’s natural functionality.”
KOREAN SKINCARE IS KNOWN FOR ITS 10-STEP SKINCARE ROUTINES. DO YOU INTEND TO GROW THE KRAVE BEAUTY LINE TO MATCH THAT, OR WILL YOU BE GOING A DIFFERENT ROUTE?
“We’re definitely very different from the maximalist approach [of K-Beauty]; we wouldn’t say that we’re minimalists because we don’t really care about how many steps someone has in their skincare routine, as long as everything they’re using serves a purpose and meets their skin’s needs. It’s more about the intention and about the purpose of the products they’re using, and that people know about what products they’re using. I think that’s more important than the number of steps. That’s why we have 2 different product categories: Core Series, which are the bare essentials -cleanser, moisturizer, SPF- and then anything else that has Retinol or Vitamin C, or added supplements, is categorized under the Supplement Series, because everything else is a targeted solution that’s not really a necessity, but could be a supplement depending on your skin concern and what you’re targeting.”
WHEN DID YOU START YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND WHAT LEAD YOU TO WANT TO SHARE BEAUTY AND SKINCARE TIPS WITH AN AUDIENCE?
“I started by YouTube channel back in 2012 and I was in my senior year in college. I grew up in Korea and back then, all of the crazy K-pop trends were happening all over the world, and the interest naturally shifted to K-Beauty and which skincare products Korean celebrities were using, but no one was actually reviewing any Korean beauty products in English, so I thought that because I’m in Korea and have access to a lot of K-Beauty products, why don’t I review the products? It really started out of curiosity and pure interest as a hobby and it slowly and gradually grew into what it is today.”
HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING AN INFLUENCER, CONTENT CREATOR, AND ENTREPRENEUR?
“I don’t think I have a balance, to be honest. Waking up early has changed my life, and during the day, everyone in the office requires my time, and decisions, and attention, because we don’t have a senior management position, so I oversee everything. It becomes really challenging to make time for myself, so I prefer to create content really early in the morning or really late at night. It’s almost like my side-hustle, or it became my side-hustle, and from 9-5, I focus on all things Krave Beauty. I definitely don’t have a healthy balance, but I’m working non-stop and I don’t know how to switch off.”
AND WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
“I start my day around 5:30-6:00 AM, I meditate, because that’s the only thing that keeps me sane throughout my hectic schedule. I meditate for about 15 minutes, and then I’ll read a book if I can, and that’s the time I set aside to learn new things, I’ll either read or listen to a podcast, or dive into something that I’m interested in learning about. Then I go to the gym and workout until 7AM, and with the 2 hour window I have before 9AM, I dedicate to creating content and planning content or answering emails related to YouTube. From 9:30AM-5PM, I’m in the office and I focus on being responsive to all of the tasks that come up regarding Krave Beauty. My nights are focused on working on YouTube.”
HOW DOES YOUR BACKGROUND WORKING FOR A huge SKINCARE COMPANY INFORM THE WAY YOU RUN KRAVE BEAUTY?
“It’s definitely opened my eyes to the way the beauty industry works. When it comes to beauty conglomerates, they have other needs to satisfy, such as investors or sales goals they need to reach, so I don’t think that when they’re developing products, their interests or intentions are genuine. I feel like that’s why the multi-step routine started. They diversified all of the categories of products and made it seem like you need all of them, but you really don’t. I kind of got a glimpse of what business is, but that’s why it fired me up to make a brand that has good intentions and really cares about [our consumer’s] skin health at the end of the day.”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN LOOKING TO BUILD THEIR OWN BRANDS?
“I think the one thing that I really struggled with the most, is being unapologetically myself. Through crafting the brand’s voice, even when it didn’t feel the most natural to me, I pursued a tone that we’ve already seen from brands, but I was trying to dress my brand in someone else’s clothes. I was a little insecure and had self-doubt about being the face of the brand, and I didn’t trust in my voice, but I had good mentors throughout the journey that reassured me that my voice is unique and there are people who want to hear that voice. Nowadays, it’s all about the product, but at the end of the day, it’s also about the narrative, and the philosophy that you stand for, and as long as you have clear intentions and are unapologetically yourself, there will be a tribe or a group of people that’ll be willing to listen to what you’re saying.”
WHAT’S THE HARDEST OBSTACLE YOU’VE HAD TO OVERCOME IN TERMS OF THE BUSINESS ASPECT OF RUNNING KRAVE BEAUTY?
“I never had any experience running a company or brand, I don’t have an MBA and I never studied business, but I really was diligent enough to go out of my way to learn about business. I listened to a lot of podcasts, I read a lot of business books, and there are a lot of YouTube channels like Harvard Business School and Stanford Business School who share their lectures on YouTube, so that was my method of studying. That’s how I got my training on how to manage cash flow, or how to do financial projection reports.”
yeah, we have these resources at our fingertips now that make it easy for millennial entrepreneurs and founders without degrees to learn how to run businesses. It’s amazing that you were able to make use of them and are now running a company.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE YOUTUBE CHANNELS OR PODCASTS THAT YOU watch and LISTEN TO?
“For podcasts, I really love How I Built This from NPR. Regarding skincare, there’s a podcast that I love called The Beauty Brains, I really like how honest they are. It’s hosted by two cosmetic chemists and they debunk all of the myths and educate you to not fall into the marketing B.S., so I think that’s really helpful for consumers to stay informed. For YouTube, there’s a channel that I watched called Pick Up Limes, I think she’s Canadian like you, but she lives in the Netherlands, and she makes a lot of personal growth and development content, and does a lot of healthy recipes. Whenever I watch her, I feel like I’m living through her and I aspire to live healthy and be more like her.”
WHAT BIG PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR 2019?
“We want to focus more on educating people, so that’s our main agenda for 2019. I also want to re-vamp my channel, and right now I don’t have anyone who’s working for my YouTube channel, so I definitely want to hire more people to help me have a proper production team, and to create better content for the viewers because YouTube is changing, and people who watch YouTube videos are constantly changing. I feel like I have this set expectation for myself to grow and nurture my content, so I want to focus more on content creation.”
where do you see Krave beauty in say 5 years?
“To be honest, I only really started this brand to press reset on all of the marketing B.S. in the industry, so if I feel like Krave Beauty grows big enough to have such an impact, I’m creating a more transparent place in the beauty industry, and if that works, I don’t know if I’ll still be in Krave Beauty because there are a lot of products out there and I don’t think we’re a product based company, even though we technically are, I feel like our mission is much bigger. Hopefully in 5 years, the beauty industry will become more transparent, but it’s good to see that there are a lot of indie beauty brands, I saw you interviewed Indie Lee, and other small beauty brands that are led by really strong philosophies, so if we have more movement with the indie beauty brands, the industry can definitely change. The industry is dominated by beauty conglomerates, and I think that’s where the problem stems from. Hopefully the paradigm changes.”