Name: Tanya Choi
Title/Position: Beauty Entrepreneur; Founder, Breathing Beauty
Instagram/Website: Under Development (but, thanks for asking!)(www.BreathingBeauty.com)
DT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And some highlights in your career? Please name drop (laughs).
TC: Hi! I’ve always been a little “budding” artist and entrepreneur as a kid – spearheading artistic projects and rallying the kids around a cause or endeavor. By the time I was a teenager, my plan was to be a filmmaker and go to NYU film school. My father, who immigrated to the US from South Korea, basically refused to support this dream (his plan was for me to be a lawyer and eventually, a US senator) and so, I studied Journalism in college and fit in film classes and projects on the side. From there, I found myself indulging in various career choices and being exposed to different facets of life – and looking back now, I thrived on pursuing a non-linear trajectory. After going to business school (for fun and with no real goals, might I add), I landed a global role at L’Oreal in marketing. From there, I realized a career at the intersection of creative and business; one that required logic and emotion at the same time. I think this is inherently who I am – paradoxical and interwoven with many disciplines and perspectives. L’Oreal gave me the training wheels in the beauty industry and from there, I went on to Benefit Cosmetics (where I was the second employee in their minted strategic global marketing division), then Sephora (where I got knee deep in digital, analytics, retail operations), then became head of marketing at a beauty startup where I developed and launched prestige fragrance brands. Within a year, I was laid off due to the evolving nature of the startup and left with a newfound confidence and desire to start my own business. Initially, it manifested itself as a small consultancy where I leveraged my expertise and network to work on small and big beauty projects in various areas of the business (within and outside of branding and marketing). Three years later, I am working on launching my own beauty agency while also creating a beauty brand for dogs.
DT: Why is it important to have diversity in the beauty and fashion industries?
TC: On a humane level, diversity is important because it’s a human truth. We are all different and not just with where we come from or how we look (external) but how we feel, see things, interact with the world (internal). We should embrace the notion of being different in different ways, not just by having a quota of Asian, African-American, Hispanic or queer faces on ads or in the workforce. It’s an individual definition. You can be a heterosexual Caucasian and still be diverse! We need to celebrate and worship our individual stamps; every glass shatters into different pieces and shapes. This is how we stay connected with human nature as a civilization and continue to grow ideas, products and businesses that serve our people, not hurt or exclude them.
DT: Have you seen shifts in the last decade?
TC: Obviously, there is a shift in the “norm” and a mainstream versioning of how diversity is defined. It’s a step in the right direction for sure. But we need to go deeper.
DT: In a perfect world, what would be an ideal evolution in the industries of beauty and fashion?
TC: Hard to say. Finding our happiness and truth and assigning that to making us beautiful and fashionable.
DT: Do you realize that your presence in the industry inspires many people around the world?
TC: After I read your question, I did. Thank you.
DT: What advice would you give to your younger self?
TC: Love yourself. You’re doing great. And don’t wear heels because you feel you have to (my bunion is speaking right now)
DT: Are you living your purpose?
TC: Sometimes, I feel like my purpose is to discover my purpose. In which case, I am living it. But perhaps my purpose is to be free of the things that I deem to need so I can be a child again. Yes, that’s it. Isn’t that what aging will bring? Eventually, I will go back to where I started.
DT: Finish this sentence, “I am grateful for…”
TC: “…the experience of this interview, because I felt positively connected to the future invisible reader and to you, D’angelo. Cheerio!”
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