We’ve been unbelievably privileged to have the opportunity to build something that we’re passionate about. Here’s a little snippet of our journey to date through major milestones and some behind-the-scenes photos!
Years ago, the initial introduction: Alicia and Cindy met a handful of years ago through a mutual friend. Alicia was in Korea at the time visiting family after graduating from Harvard Business School, and Cindy was working in Korea and considering going to business school. Conversations about business school, entrepreneurship, sports and of course, beauty, led to a fast rapport.
Cindy’s a professional synchronized skater - here’s Alicia getting free skating lessons from Cindy!
Summer 2012, the idea: Alicia and Cindy kept in touch through the years and would discuss startup ideas and the exciting things in Korea that can’t be found in the US. Alicia was working for the Boston Consulting Group at the time focusing on beauty clients. Cindy was working for a beauty startup in Seoul. Alicia noticed that major beauty clients in the US would look to Korea for the best beauty formulations. Cindy saw that beauty brands in Korea were interested in being in the US market, but had many pain points to come to the US. After lightly testing the idea, the two paired up to decide to launch Peach and Lily. Bottom line: consumers in the US wanted access to great Korean and Japanese beauty products but didn’t have a good channel to shop curated brands.
Here’s our initial sign-up page from 2012!
August 2012, Alicia quits her job: Putting in notice at BCG was a bit daunting especially with a promotion around the corner. However, there were green lights everywhere to pursue this idea and starting another project that could potentially take 6 months wasn’t ideal. All eggs-in-one-basket! Alicia put in notice in August and officially left BCG Labor Day, 2 years ago!
Alicia’s last day at BCG in front of her office!
Fall 2012, Beauty-hunting in Korea: Alicia went out to Korea to curate Peach and Lily’s very first beauty brands. Even though Peach and Lily had no consumers at the time, we believed that the most important thing would be to stick to a rigorous curation process. Screening products and brands by thousands of consumer reviews, finding cult sensations, vetting and reviewing ingredients and formulations, interviewing the brands’ executive, marketing & R&D teams to ensure a commitment to quality, and then focus-group testing each product for 27days+ took time, but continues to remain Peach and Lily’s cornerstone principle. Only 5% of brands make the Peach and Lily cut, but we continue to stick to this intense vetting process to make sure you only see the best of the best! October: beauty brand 1 curated!
Part of beauty-hunting included the requisite spa explorations - and of course, wearing a towel on the head ram-style to keep sweat off the face, the way all the Koreans do it.
December 2012, Cindy quits Wharton business school: With just one semester left to go, Cindy leaves Wharton business school and joins Alicia full-time in building Peach and Lily. She is building out the website and working with designers and developers to be able to build a website that can support what we’d like to share about the brands and easily shop the products. She’s also setting up the logistics to ensure once the website launches, all products can be shipped in a timely manner and without breaking along the way. Without any outside funding, we’re trying to ensure a quality and seamless, but cost-effective solution to deliver a great customer experience!
Cindy at her last semester at bschool doing cool things before leaving!
January 2013, Peach and Lily beta site launches: We did it! We officially launched our site on 1/23/2013 with just four but very exceptional brands. It was such an exciting day when we opened up our e-commerce site and sent out our very first email to announce the open. Dozens upon dozens of orders came in, which was then fulfilled out of Cindy’s apartment with the help of her parents. Thank you, Kim’s!
All boxed up and ready-to-go!
April 2013, Peach and Lily launches in non-beta mode: We officially launched our site (not in beta mode) a few months later with 4 more brands added to the site. Our first press feature was secured…except Allure Magazine wanted the exclusive and they wanted to feature this in September. So we happily waited until then, but kept chugging along with adding more products to the site after the same rigorous vetting that we apply to every product on our site. By this point, we had moved our “offices” into Alicia’s apartment and had a team of 3, including our Japanese Brands Director.
Our first press feature! Thank you, Allure. <3
July 2013, Peach and Lily at Cosmoprof: This was our first tradeshow with our own booth, and it was a blast. We lined up tons of interest in Korean and Japanese brands from various retailers and consumers and realized that these great products aren’t just niche products, but mainstream national retailers loved them for the exceptional quality and efficacy. We were super thankful that we stuck to our guns and never compromised on our curation process, truly bringing only the best of the best over State-side. To treat ourselves, we watched Zumanity, which was awesome!
Our very first Peach and Lily booth!
September 2013, Peach and Lily in Nolita: We paired up with the Korean government in the Openhouse Gallery to help introduce ten Korean brands, including one of our partner portfolio brands to New Yorkers! The grand opening event was incredibly energized and we were so excited to see an offline destination dedicated to Korean beauty brands.
Alicia and Cindy at the grand opening event!
December 2013, Peach and Lily during the holidays: Wow, we had NO IDEA how crazy the holiday season can get for retail! We faced our first holiday season head-on and it was completely insane and amazing at the same time. Our orders went up by at least five times overnight and we had to hire people temporarily to make sure everyone’s holiday gifts and splurges were arriving on time. We were able to make sure everything got out on time, and even had a couple days off to celebrate the holidays ourselves!
Holiday orders in full swing! Assembly-lining orders to ensure everyone gets everything on time.
April 2014, Peach and Lily moves into a larger warehouse: We were storing, picking and packing out of a small warehouse on the upper west side that we grew out of. We had to quickly figure out a new solution. And we found the perfect one in NJ that is big enough to account for how much we would (hopefully) grow in the future!
Cindy and Cathy, our incredible Operations Manager in front of our new warehouse!
Mostly done organizing our inventory in this very safe, room-temperature controlled warehouse after all products passed all quality control testing!
May 2014, Peach and Lily gets funding: We made a big decision this past May to accept outside funding. We were very thankful to find investors who are incredible partners who care about our consumers, brands and vision as much as we do! We felt so thankful and empowered to do even more for our consumers and create a better experience. We celebrated by first catching up on sleep and then hitting a spa!
A special moment for us that we’ll always cherish.
July 2014, Peach and Lily at Cosmoprof, Year 2: It was interesting to return to Cosmoprof and this time have retailers and consumers actually know about us beforehand. We were thrilled to return with new brands to debut and see the overwhelmingly positive feedback again. Korean and Japanese beauty brands definitely know how to wow and please a crowd.
Year 2 at Cosmoprof!
September 2014, Peach and Lily team grows/is growing: We had contractors and a few people who had joined our team over the last couple years. We’re growing our team and hiring! We’re specifically looking for those who are savvy marketers and excited to be in an entrepreneurial environment. For those seriously interested, btw, please feel free to send us an email at email@example.com!
Big moments: Over the last couple years, we’ve gone to Korea and Japan 7 times for a total of ~8 months to beauty hunt on the ground and have stayed on top of trends and brought back hopefully very exciting products each time. We’ve moved warehouses a few times, and offices twice. We’ve officially settled down in the garment district right next to Macy’s. We’ve been to 5 tradeshows. We’ve had 5 pop-up shops offline. We’ve brought the offline Asian sheet mask storefront experience online. Through it all, we’ve had so much fun and count it a great privilege to be able to be a small part of your journey towards healthy and radiant skin!
Happy Labor Day, everyone.
xo- Peach and Lily