Entrepreneurs David Yi and KimChi are breaking the mold of who a beauty brand owner can be, what they can accomplish, and creating a world of inclusive beauty. Beauty News caught up with David Yi, founder of Good Light skin care and the blog Very Good Light, and KimChi, the world-famous drag queen and founder of KimChi Chic Beauty, to discuss the journey of creating their own businesses, raising funds, and plans for the future.

Beauty and Gender

In several ways, KimChi (born Sang-Young Shin) and David Yi share commonalities in the development of their beauty brands. Both are of South Korean heritage and both were heavily influenced by the gender binary when it came down to the practice of aesthetics.

“I always wondered why certain acts like skin care and beauty were so gendered,” said David. “Why is it that cosmetics is only marketed for women when men and non-binary folx have expressed themselves in bold ways throughout the ages? It’s so antiquated to think of our beauty aisles today being so binary where there are hyperfeminine products in one section and hypermasculine products in another.”

For KimChi, the world of drag plays heavily into the field of feminine or masculine aesthetic choices. KimChi stepped into this world when they chose to dress up, as a lark, for Halloween and fell in love with the transformation process.

Figuring Out Funding

When it comes to financing, David was able to build up funds via financial investors Odile Roujol from the FaB ventures fund and Julian Reis from SuperOrdinary, as well as, the collective power of friends and family members’ pockets.

Mentors, such as Charlotte Cho (Soko Glam Co-Founder), Liah Yoo (Krave Beauty Founder and CEO), and Amy Liu (Tower 28 Founder) all provided emotional support and their collective business experience as they helped him start his business.

KimChi worked with and was mentored by beauty industry veteran Toni Ko, founder of NYX Cosmetics and Bespoke Beauty Brands [BBB]. BBB is a beauty brand incubator that invests in skin care and makeup brands including Jason Wu Beauty, Mai Johnson & Company, Liane V Beauty, and KimChi Chic Beauty. Toni, who sold NYX Cosmetics in 2014, created BBB when her five-year non-compete expired. She tapped KimChi, who had previously collaborated with her on a collection of sunglasses, to build plans for a beauty brand.

While both brands have different start-up stories, there are similarities. Both are priced accessibly. And both use social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, to gain consumer attention and engagement.

On working with Toni, KimChi noted, “What’s really cool about her is how even though she is one of the wealthiest women in the world [Toni reportedly sold NYX Cosmetics for $400 million to L’Oreal], she treats everybody with such kindness. Literally, she respects all her employees, she never talks down to anyone and talks to everyone like they’re her friend. I never experienced that from someone who is considered a legend in her field.”

Building the Brand Image

Good Light focuses on skin care and maintains a clean, minimalistic aesthetic. When asked about the brand’s unique selling point, David said, “Other than the fact that we have such interesting textures and very efficacious products, I’d say it’s our mission is [creating] beauty beyond the binary. We want to create more spaces for folx from all spectrums, whether you are a gender non-conforming man, trans woman, non-binary, or perhaps never saw yourself reflected [in beauty], we want this brand to be for you. Good light is all about shining your best light and owning your power.” Good Light products range from $12 for New Moon Balm to $24 for We Come In Peace Microbiome Serum.

KimChi Chic Beauty is positioned to offer a wide range of make-up products, from bright pastels to everyday neutrals, for everyone from drag queens to the typical office worker that can be incorporated into their makeup routines. KimChi Chic Beauty’s products range from $4.50 for a Teddy Bear Sharpener to $29 for A Really Good Foundation.

“I would like KimChi Chic Beauty to reach more of middle America, like how people use NYX Cosmetics regularly. Whether or not you’re a drag queen or an average office worker lady who uses KimChi Chic Beauty products as part of her daily routine…I think that would be pretty awesome.”

Product Pipeline

Currently, KimChi Chic Beauty is available via the brand’s website, as well as at Beauty Bay, Camera Ready Cosmetics, Vanity Box Cosmetics, Dolls Kill, Flip, Lunaflora, BeautyJoint, and various CVS locations across the United States. Good Light is currently obtainable via the brand’s site, Soko Glam, Morphe, Cult Beauty, Thirteen Lune, JCP, and Ulta.com.

Both beauty brand owners have plans to expand their brands into non-U.S. markets. KimChi Chic plans to enter 200 Canadian retail stores this summer and will soon reach the United Kingdom. David’s long-term plans for Good Light involve expanding into the Asian market and eventually creating a global footprint.

The faces of beauty are constantly evolving. And founders such as David Yi and KimChi are breaking the shape of that mold along the way.