Maelove Skincare CEO & Founder Jackie Kim: Ladies, Quality Skin Care Doesn't Have to Be Expensive by Belinda Lichty Clarke
Jackie Kim, founder and CEO of Maelove, was an attorney and startup investor before developing her own skin-care line. Her mission: to provide clarity for women who are overwhelmed with hyped marketing claims and complicated multi-step regimens.
No stranger to the startup space, Kim not only looked to the best in the business to develop her formulations but she also took the added step of analyzing more than three million online skin-care product reviews to better understand what attributes correlate with customer satisfaction.
Q. What was your inspiration for the career change and the creation of the brand?
"I created Maelove because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the beauty space. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother make their skin-care routines an important daily ritual, and this kindled my own fascination with skin care. I quickly became immersed in the skin-care world and what it had to offer. I had to try them all – from drugstore brands to the 10-step, K-beauty routine to $400 night creams.
"After years of product exploration, I started to realize that there were no brands that offered the perfect balance – high-quality products at a reasonable price. There are many budget brands that are price-tag friendly, but lack quality ingredients and a luxurious feel. On the contrary, some of the expensive brands have good formulas and feel nice to the touch, but it comes with a heavy price tag. What I wanted to do was to make great products more accessible, and that is why I created Maelove."
Q. What was it about the challenge that most excited you? Scared you?
"As a beauty industry outsider, I was excited to bring a fresh perspective. Instead of creating trendy, undifferentiated products, I wanted to create purposeful products based on sound science and quality manufacturing. I was eager to make products that I would love using every day, and that I know other women would love as well.
"At the same time, it was also intimidating when I delved into the beauty space as a beauty industry outsider. I didn’t have connections to anyone in this industry who could help me get started. It forced me to be hands-on with every aspect of my company, which I’m very grateful for today."
Q. What was the biggest hurdle you faced making the big pivot?
"The most difficult part of breaking into the beauty industry was identifying and partnering with the best supply chain partners such as cosmetic labs, testing labs, ingredient providers, packaging makers, freight transporters and fulfillment facilities. It required some investigation and creativity for me to figure out the top firms in each area.
"Once I identified the companies that I wanted to partner with, the next big hurdle was to convince them to work with Maelove. These top companies are highly sought after, so they’re quite picky on who they work with. I managed to convince enough great partners to work with me, and this has been a crucial victory for Maelove and our ability to create top-quality products."
Q. Why this company, why these products?
"My vision for Maelove was to create luxury quality products without the luxury markups. I’m a big believer that great self-care is a right and not a privilege for a select group of people, and I wanted my brand to reflect that. We use the highest quality ingredients and work with some of the top cosmetic labs to produce amazing products, and price them to be as accessible as possible."
Q. How has the pandemic affected your work, if at all?
"Our team has been working remotely since we started Maelove. We didn’t want to pay for an office space so that we could keep our company expenses to a minimum because if we internally stretch our dollars further, our customers will spend less (and that’s our goal). So, we’ve figured out a way to work effectively together as a team while working from home long before the pandemic started."
Q. What is your favorite thing about the products?
"What I love about our products is that each product contains proven, active ingredients in high concentrations while having an amazing texture and feel when applied. I focus a lot on perfecting the sensory attributes to ensure that each product feels great and smells great naturally without added dyes or fragrances. Using skincare products consistently is the key to achieving long-term results, and I wanted to create products that women will love using every single day."
Q. What advice would you give other entrepreneurs thinking about making a career change and starting a company?
"Women are very passionate problem solvers, which is needed when creating a company from the ground up. But, some of us tend to overlook finances and operations like how to maintain cashflow, what level of inventory to keep, how to hire and fire people, etc. I would like to remind entrepreneurs to think of these issues early on instead of getting caught by surprise later as their businesses evolve."
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