Owner of Tatcha Beauty
“My mom had this beauty store growing up that I worked in. We had the big beauty brands, but we didn’t use any of it. We made our own products. We always said, ‘if it’s good enough for geisha….’”
“I got recruited to work for a startup called GoodGuide Inc. They were doing ratings on personal care. I had never seen beauty from a scientific side and it shed some light as to why I might have gone from having the tightest skin around to having contact dermititus [from testing different products].
For a period, I became one of those hardcore green consumers — there was nothing I could put on my face. I called up my mom to ask her about the products we used to make — it was kind of out necessity — and started traveling the world, looking for the origins of all these things, like blotting papers. I found myself face-to-face with a geisha and it went from there.
I finally found the [traditional geisha] papers, which are made by gold-leaf artisans. I fell so in love with the history — these are literally the original blotting papers. I told them I wanted to bring them to the Western world. I went all the way out there, pregnant, and they weren’t interested. I told them I would sell my engagement ring to buy enough papers, and they understood I was serious. We introduced the blotting papers the day I was in labor with my daughter.”
“I never think about whether I’m making money off of a customer today. All I think about is whether I’m making her happy. As long as she’s happy and you made her feel beautiful, she’ll come back and she’ll tell her friends.”
“Before, I had a normal business job, and I didn’t necessarily get to work with people who were that different. Now, I spend my time with scientists in Tokyo, geisha, and my customers, who are like my pen pals. It’s a lot more fun than Wall Street.”
Secret to success:
“Entrepreneurship is definitely a game of stamina. I try to start my days with a good workout whenever I can, keep a clean(ish) diet, and get a full night's sleep whenever possible. Loving my work and my team makes the hours fly by, too. We have a very fun-loving team that is young at heart, so being with them is very energizing.”
Illustration by Naomi Abel