For years in the US, Korean skin-care practices have not received proper credit where due, and Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon it out to change that. Growing up in both Seoul and New York, Yoon's bicultural upbringing influenced her views on skin care and the culture that shapes it. She was always interested in beauty and immersed herself in Korean culture in an effort to figure out her skin. After struggling with severe eczema, Yoon quit her job as a banker and consultant and went to aesthetician school.
"When I figured out how to transform how my skin looked and felt, it was so empowering," Yoon told POPSUGAR. "It gave me this joy that came with caring for my skin — this positive feeling that I could figure out what's working for me. I realized this is my passion, helping others transform their skin."
Peach & Lily launched as a K-beauty retailer nine years ago, back when Korean beauty wasn't a mainstream category in the US just yet. Being in the US, Yoon recognized that a vast majority of Korean skin-care products were not accessible, so she set out to introduce the holistic philosophy she grew up with to a new set of consumers.
"My Korean beauty heritage has affected me a lot because I have the view that skin care is about health," Yoon said, adding that, more importantly, skin care and self-care are not about vanity.
"The Korean beauty heritage has affected me a lot because I have the view that skin care is about health."
While working in beauty, Yoon said she noticed two things — both of which she is on the path to changing. First, the fact that Asian and Korean beauty has been called a "trend." Considering these rituals, ingredients, and practices have been around for centuries, it's not just a fad, even if some American skin-care companies are labeling it as one. Second, rebranding tools such as the gua sha or incorrectly identifying where ingredients came from is not only unethical but also unwise from a business perspective as consumers value authenticity. "When it comes to certain things that come out of Asia, it is important for brands and content creators to give credit where it's due," Yoon said.
For Yoon, it was important to bring what she knew from Korea to America in an authentic way and ensure the category of Asian beauty was properly introduced. And that's exactly what she did: Yoon was the first to bring Korean beauty to QVC on air, introduce K-beauty to CVS, do a collaboration with Target, and launch the K-beauty program at Sephora.
"If you are benefiting from a people group who are in crisis, I do believe it is your responsibility to speak up and protect them."
Now that Peach & Lily is a global beauty brand with its own products (if you haven't tried the Glass Skin Refining Serum, this is your sign), Yoon is using her voice to speak up against Asian hate. "As a Korean American, it's been empowering to know that I can speak up, I can condemn what's happening, and I can encourage others to do the same," Yoon said.
Her brand's platform has made her realize the importance of saying something in times of distress, as well as how not saying anything is a statement in itself. "I want to request and encourage other beauty brands to contemplate this," Yoon said. "There's a business and moral imperative to do so. If you are benefiting from a people group who are in crisis, I do believe it is your responsibility to speak up and protect them."
From global beauty brands to singular consumers, everyone has the ability to make a positive change and stand up against the racism and hatred in this world. "I think once you believe you can make a difference, the way you speak up changes. It becomes less about, 'I checked the box and I spoke up,'" Yoon said. "It becomes about, 'No, I'm doing this because I care, and because I can actually make a difference.'"
For additional ways to stop Asian hate, you can learn more here.