Amorepacific, with 28 brands under its umbrella, is the largest beauty company in East Asia. In September 2017, Jessica Hanson became the first female President and General Manager for the U.S. (She reports to Mr. Bae Dong-hyun, Amorepacific Group President, at the company’s Global Headquarters in Seoul.) To date, the company has migrated seven brands here, with three more to follow by 2020. “Our number-one seller in North America is now Laneige, followed by our anchor brand and namesake, Amorepacific,” Jessica said. “Our two fastest-growing brands are innisfree and Mamonde.” Prior to her recent move, the 41-year-old Californian was Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Perricone MD. She also spent eight years at L’Oréal USA in senior leadership positions in marketing and sales. Then there was the merchandising leadership role at Sephora as DMM/Vice President of Luxury Fragrances and Men’s Grooming. To say she is a good fit for the K-Beauty conglomerate is an understatement. Somehow the married mother of two, who just completed her tenth trip to Korea, found time to talk with CEW’s Beauty Insider for our 5 Minutes With… feature.
BI: How do you choose which brands are ripe for the American market?
JH: Innovation is one of our core values, so we always start with, ‘what can we introduce that will be new and different?’ Recently we’ve formed a closer global partnership with Sephora to work together to prepare the next big introduction.
BI: What’s it like being a woman in this company?
JH: I truly feel I can bring a fresh perspective because I’m as much a consumer as I am an executive. I also feel supported by my male superiors, peers and direct reports because of my expertise in understanding the North American beauty industry. It’s also important to note that the founder of Amorepacific introduced a door-to-door cosmetics sales system in 1964, a way to support women to achieve financial independence during the post-war period. Against this backdrop, our company is committed to various programs to help women stand on their own financially and achieve gender equality.
BI: Which brand has proven the most surprising to you?
Sulwhasoo was a surprise because it wasn’t on my radar and its A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. From the history and efficacy of the ingredients used, to the unbelievable textures, coupled with the rituals and results, this brand will definitely succeed as more hear about its results.
BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
JH: Trust your gut. A very smart woman taught me this and it has proven to be true over and over again.
BI: Greatest accomplishment thus far?
JH: I was the first in my family to graduate college and attain a graduate degree (while working full time); I struggled for years to become a mother and achieved this twice through domestic open adoption; and now, like many female leaders, I strive to achieve balance between my commitment and passion for my profession and personal life.
BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?
Rushing through my undergraduate years. I took just over three years to graduate from a program that should have taken closer to five because I couldn’t wait to work. I wish I took more time to study abroad and enjoy being young.
BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
JH: The one product I never leave home without is my Smashbox BB Cream in Light/Medium.
BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
Work hard, take risks and show your passion, curiosity and creative thinking as much as you can. It will take you far and set you apart.
BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
Although I didn’t start this business, my parents have owned two businesses, so I learned through them that even if you close or sell the business, it will always be part of you. It’s impossible not to be personal when it’s your own.
BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
JH: The grass is never greener, it’s just a different shade.
BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
JH: Perfection is a myth; the truth lies in your persistence.