Ever since starting her K-beauty e-commerce website Soko Glam in 2012, Charlotte Cho has been asked when she was going to create her own beauty brand, she said. Six years later, that day has finally arrived.
The new line, called Then I Met You, consists of two cleansing products and launches on Wednesday exclusively on ThenIMetYou.com. Notably, Then I Met You is not being sold on Soko Glam, which itself sells 550 products from 45 K-beauty brands and receives “millions” of visitors each month. Despite being made in Korea, the business is based in New York, and Cho said the offering is not a Soko Glam derived beauty line — making it a deviation from the recent trend of retailers like Credo Beauty, Memebox and The Detox Market launching their own private-label brands.
Then I Met You is taking a strong anti-wellness and anti-self-care approach by trying to get customers to think outside of themselves and, instead, at their interpersonal relationships and community. The lineup is based on the Korean concept of jeong, which refers to the cultivation of deep personal bonds through unselfish giving — it’s something Cho learned about while living in South Korea after college.
“This is not a self-care brand,” Cho said. “Beauty brands tend to use that [phrase] a lot, but jeong is about caring for others. It’s all very me-me-me right now culturally, but jeong is asking people to take time for others.”
Though not sold on the Soko Glam site, Then I Met You will rely on aspects of the Soko Glam community Cho has built over the past six years in order to reach new customers. For example, the Soko Glam blog The Klog became its own standalone blog last year, is where Cho decided to announce the new brand on Wednesday. Cho’s personal Instagram, where she has almost 80,000 followers, will also be used to announce the launch. Cho declined to cite sales goals for the brand or the volume of product units created for its initial launch.
In order to further hone in on the idea of jeong, the Then I Met You duo cleanser package will include a postcard with a stamp in every order. The hope is that people will take the opportunity to send the postcard with a handwritten message to someone in their lives, Cho said. Additionally, the brand is choosing not to use an influencer marketing approach at all, before or after launch. Instead, it gifted product to approximately 80 of Cho’s friends, acquaintances and family members. There was no requirement to post on social (although people may choose to do so), as the gifting of the product was positioned as an offering of thanks for the years-long support, she said.
“It is [going to be] a harder journey,” she said, in regard to raising brand awareness. “It’s going to be more difficult because we aren’t throwing a bunch of spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks by using influencers [or selling on Soko Glam].”
Following the initial announcement for the brand, there will also be an ongoing social campaign through Instagram Stories on its own account called “#SelflessSunday” to act as a foil to “#SelfcareSaturday” that currently exists. Beginning Sunday, Oct. 21, Then I Met You will begin to educate followers on what the purpose of #SelflessSunday is, before eventually providing actionable information to followers on the ways they can form relationships within their communities and social circles.
“To have deep connections, you have to look outside yourself,” Cho said. “We need this now, more than ever.”