Korean skincare online shop RosiePot.com co-founders, Ann Choi and Amy Lee, discuss with us – using vinegar to combat acne, overcoming sexism in the workplace, and the Korean beauty takeover. Plus, their current fave Korean beauty products. 

On the Korean beauty craze…
Ann: “I think Korean beauty is getting attention because of Korean dramas, Kpop, and singers like Psy. Those celebrities started bringing Korea attention and all of those stars look so good. They have perfect skin and it’s not just plastic surgery. Their skin is like crazy.”

Amy: “If you look at some of the Korean girls or the celebrities on (Korean)tv, it’s not just about having perfect skin tone or getting rid of wrinkles, their skin glows. I think everyone wants to try to get as close as they can to achieve that. People want to know, what are you guys doing to your faces? And finally the secret is out, it’s something like a 14 step, 30 minute skincare routine.

“There was this time when this Korean actress, Park Jin Hee, was staying at my house and I was watching her wash up and I kid you not, it took her over 30 minutes. She had tubs and tubs of stuff. She even had stickers to number all of her products. She was washing her face, it seriously was like 10 minutes, the water just kept coming and coming, and that was 10 or 12 years ago. And you (points to Ann) saw her recently on tv and she looks so good. They all look so young.”

Launching RosiePot.com
 “We were noticing this wave of Korean products coming in and it was interesting to see people were genuinely shocked by the types of products Korean people use. It was amazing to us that these girls had never heard of a face mask, or bb cream or snail mucin. But we kind of know all of this like the back our hand and so we are like, ok, we see this huge wave coming. And one day we were thinking, why not.

“It’s so funny how everything sort of just falls into place. Ann and I have always talked about doing something together. We really balance each other out. We’re like a married business couple in a weird way. We were throwing ideas at each other and with this everything just sort of clicked. It happened really fast since it just made sense.”

Ann: “She’s more of a perfectionist than I am. She wants all the photographs to be perfect and I’m just like, no, let’s just get it up, we can go back and fix it later. But I think it’s good that we are like this because if we were both like me, then maybe our website would look pretty janky, or if we were both like her we would have only two products up because nothing looks good enough.

“My main role here is product. So I purchase and select most of the products and do research on what’s new. But even though I’m the product person, it’s really nice to have her there to get her opinion because sometimes I will go crazy and can’t make up my mind and just want to buy everything that’s so cute, but she reigns me back in.”

Amy: “I do the technology and design. But we really are Ann and Amy of all trades. Everything is a collaboration. I think as we start growing our roles will become more defined, but right now we do everything together.”

On the name Rosie Pot
Amy: “I wish there was a great story or some kind of deep meaning behind it, but we just wanted something playful. I think its just a reflection of who Ann and I are. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. I wish I could tell you that Rosie was my grandmother’s name, but it’s nothing like that.”

Ann: “But it is reminiscent of rosy cheeks and I wanted it to be easy to say. On our site we have “Rosie’s Tips,” and we are trying to create an identity and humanize the brand in a friendly, casual way.”

Amy: “Even when we were picking out the color palette, lavender and light teals, we didn’t want to come across as elevated or exclusive. Our voice is personal, like a cool older sister who has a lot of advice on how to take care of your skin. We’re not exclusive, we aren’t high maintenance, we’re approachable.”

Rosie Pot White Wall 3
What’s one powerful experience that helped shape where you are now?

Ann: “I don’t think there was one powerful experience, but I think a lot of it had to do with me coming to the states. In Korea my family had comfortable lives and we were really well off, but when we came here we struggled financially very much after the Asian Financial Crisis. My dad’s business completely fell apart and we struggled.

“My mom was always a stay at home wife, but then she had to start working. They had restaurants and we had to go there to help after school and on weekends, because they didn’t speak English. And I think bad things happen at once. During that time my dad had two cancers. So I think seeing my parents suffer really pushed me and drove me to do whatever it takes for success.

“I am just trying to work hard and start something that could potentially blow up and be really big. Those years in my life helped me mature. I’m kind of glad that it all happened. And thankfully, my dad isn’t sick anymore.”

Amy: “I got a taste of struggle later on in my life. I started off in advertising after college and advertising is a pretty white male dominated industry. And I think for women, especially Asian women, I know this might be a stereotype, but we just look younger and so every time I would walk into an office people would mistake me for an intern.

“I’ve had jobs where it was just me with five other males. And the CEO would toss his keys at me and say ‘go get my bag out of my car.’ Or he would single me out and say, ‘go get lunch.’ I still feel like women have to work harder to get recognized.

“I’m soft spoken naturally, I mean, I can be obnoxious when I want to be funny, but at work I’m kind of shy. But I noticed my personality kept changing. I kinda had to be a bitch so that people would take me seriously. I had this label where I was the office bitch, which wasn’t true, I just want to do my job and I just want you to take me seriously. I think that also goes off of why we started RosiePot.com. We are finally doing something for ourselves. I’m finally my own boss.”

Rosie Pot White wall
On their own skincare issues and routines…

Ann: “When I was younger I had oily skin and I always wanted to take the oil out, but my skin looks better now when its super moist. My mom always says you’re going to get wrinkles if you don’t keep your skin really hydrated. So I put a lot of stuff on. Toner, serum, moisturizer, eye cream, laugh line cream. Skincare for me now is second nature. I don’t even think about it and I know when I do my routine I’m going to be in there for 20-25 minutes. But I like it.”

Amy: “I have troubled sensitive skin. Mine is a constant struggle. Even now. I struggle with hormonal acne. If I don’t sleep well I have outbreaks. And I’ve tried everything. You name it, I’ve tried it. I have been on every med, done stem cell facials, lasers, everything.

“In a way, I think because I’ve struggled with my skin I am better able to recommend products to our customers. I can empathize with what they’re going through because I’m going through it. I haven’t figured out what is working for me right now, but it has gotten better after I started using Dr. Eslee products.

“I’m doing eastern medicine and acupuncture right now. I think cutting sugar out of my diet has helped. I have more energy and I do notice on the days I do eat sugar I get a little breakout. I’m on a very strict diet, implemented by my acupuncturist. I can’t eat any fruit or leafy vegetables. I can only eat chicken, potatoes and eggs. Before this I never cared about red meat, but these days thats all I can eat. But I have lost a lot of weight.”

On spa and dermatologist treatments…
Ann: “I don’t do too much laser type things. My mom just says you should do extractions. She says you need to get it out and let your skin heal. I go to WiSpa with my friends or I’ll go to Grand Spa because they are open 24hours. I get the body scrubs and sometimes I get skin extractions. Or I’ll just do it myself.”

Amy: “I like doing epsom salt baths with lavender oil for my muscle aches and I love thai massages. I’ve been obsessed with them lately. I go once every three weeks. I found this great one in Culver City, Swanya Thai Massage, or this other one downtown, Pho-Siam Thai Spa, where you can make late appointments. Both are really inexpensive.”

Beauty Secrets
Amy: “Vinegar. I found out about it recently from my facialist. My facial lady makes me do vinegar day and night. I do a quadruple cleanse. Its very intense. First I use cleansing cream, then a foaming wash, then another wash, and finally the vinegar. Scarlet Johansen uses vinegar and a bunch of other celebrities, but they use apple cider vinegar here in the states. I use an organic barley vinegar.

“After I do my cleansers, I pour vinegar and scrub it all over my face. It’s miserable because of the smell. When you do it around your nose it is so pungent, but I let it absorb and dry before doing the other steps. Your face instantly brightens. I really like it.”

Ann: “Missha sponge. It is the best. Use it with your foaming cleanser and really foam it up. I gave it to some people at my office and they were like, I think my skin is getting better just from using the sponge. It’s so good.”

Rosie Pot Amy Products
Skincare routines
Amy: “Since I have acne prone skin, cleansers that contain oil or have a heavy consistency are a huge no-no. I currently am using Dr. Eslee Cleansing Gel and then Dr. Eslee Anti-Sebum Wash Foam. I wash my face for a good 3-5 minutes. For my third step, I spray vinegar in the palm of my hand and scrub all over my face. It’s the worst part of my skin care routine, breathing in the fumes is quite awful, but eventually the smell evaporates.

“Next, I use Dr. Eslee Anti-Sebum Skin Lotion Mild. This is the most important step. I pour a generous amount in my hands (I don’t use a cotton {pad} so I can get more of the product in my skin) and lather all over my face. The lotion clears out dead cells and sebum that block pores and it doesn’t contain alcohol or preservatives so its perfect for people like me with sensitive skin. On some days if I can find the time, I will reapply in the middle of the day. Because I use vinegar and a LOT of the Skin Lotion Mild, I have to moisturize really well or my skin gets too dry! I can use a lot of the Dr. Eslee Skin Moisture Enriched Water Gel without it getting too oily mid-day.

“I tan really easily, so I like to put on a lot of sunblock, but I hate the smell of most sunblocks and how heavy it gets. The Dr. Eslee Physical Sunscreen SPF 30 is really lightweight and absorbs really well. Lastly, I love the IPKN Essence Cover BB Cushion. I’m not a fan of the geisha look, when your face is lighter than your neck and it looks like you’re wearing lot of makeup. This cushion gives me enough coverage and evens out my skin tone.”

Rosie Pot Ann Products 2
 “To cleanse, I use Dr. Young Anti-Dryness Camellia Deep Cleansing Oil. It’s not too watery or too thick which makes it easy to apply and massage. I can feel the little blackheads/whiteheads coming out when I massage this in for a while. It even removes eye and lip makeup which I love. Then I use the Mamonde Lotus Micro Mild Foam. A very simple foam I use with my Missha Konjac Sponge; my skin feels so clean and smooth after. Then I spray the Goodal Super Seed Oil Plus Skin Mist. It’s cool because it has a layer of oil from 7 different seeds and a whitening water. You can even spray it over makeup for extra moisture! I have really dry skin so I love using oils and Goodal Repair Plus Essential Oil doesn’t get sticky, but gives really good hydration so I use it everyday.

“After I apply the oil, I use the Goodal Super Seed Oil Plus Moist Emulsion it’s so hydrating it almost feels like a serum or essence. Then I’ll use the Goodal Creamy Plus Hydrating Cream for extra hydration.

“For eye cream I use Goodal Moisture Barrier Eye Cream. I bought this eye cream in Korea and tried it and I loved it. I try to be gentle when I put on eye cream so I don’t rub it hard, which is what happens with eye creams that are too thick. The Tonymoly My Sunny Clear Sun Spray SPF 50 I carry around with me if I know I’m going to be under the sun for a long time. It doesn’t leave white marks. I hate looking like I have makeup on, so I use a tiny bit of Dr. Eslee Intensive Recovery BB Cream on just my forehead, nose and cheeks and it looks really natural and gives a natural coverage.”

-as told to BOND EN AVANT
Photographed by Amy Chang

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