By Holly J. Coley
The Beauty of Business
Turning a negative into a positive is a trick worth learning. Ask Angela Jia Kim, founder of Savor Beauty and Spa, the organic skincare line and boutique spa. One day, right before a concert in Chicago, she applied some lotion to her skin. Suddenly, she found herself covered in unsightly hives. Ever the professional, she walked on stage like all was well, but inside she was mortified, especially during the signing afterwards. One fan even felt compelled to comment on her crimson appearance. “I looked like a red lobster,” she recalls. “It was embarrassing.”
When she returned to her room, she examined the contents of her lotion. She wasn’t pleased with what she saw. “I was really surprised to see how many chemical ingredients were in this ‘natural’ formula,” she says. Rather than feel defeated, she decided to go DIY. With the beauty industry unregulated, it was the only way to ensure what she placed on her skin was safe.
Like a mad scientist, she began researching ingredients and making creams in her Manhattan kitchen. There were lots of errors in her trials, but eventually she created a few recipes so good that her friends wanted to buy them and gift them to others.
While it was nice to have her creams well received, she wasn’t convinced that she had more than a useful pastime on her hands. She certainly didn’t see a beauty empire on her horizon. “I didn’t know anything about business,” she explains. “It was just going to be a hobby and maybe I’d make some money on the side.” The birth of her daughter changed things.
Now a mother, Angela no longer wished to live the nomad life that came with being a touring pianist. When the holidays approached, she decided to open a pop-up shop to sell her creations. With her daughter in tow, she watched as the creams sold like tickets to a Beyoncé concert. By the end of the month she had pulled in $40,000, and just like that, her hobby died and a business began to bloom in its place. With the aid of a chemist, the formulas made in her kitchen would become part of the Savor lifestyle brand.
The Line: Up Close and Personal
There’s a reason why celebrities and beauty editors sing Savor Beauty’s praises, and it’s because the brand is where luxury and eco-friendly collide. From scrubs to serums, nothing contains parabens, chemical fillers, dyes, formaldehyde or any of the typical chemicals that hide in beauty products. Unlike companies who practice green-washing to lure conscious customers in, all one has to do is look at the Savor Beauty label to see it’s the real deal. Products have recognizable and pronounceable ingredients, like organic shea butter and red raspberry seed. The popular Manuka Honey Masque ($64) features antibacterial Manuka honey and skin-brightening papaya and apricot enzymes. The Caviar Eye Cream ($64) contains caviar extract, which is filled with both omega-3 and omega-6. For every skin issue, the brand has a healthy solution. Their website provides a boutique experience on a digital platform with product videos, ingredient profiles and even a skin-ID quiz so shoppers will know the right items for their needs. It’s no wonder the company continues to be a presence in the beauty landscape.
All Savor Beauty products are made in the Hudson Valley in part with Dollars & Scents, a program Angela created to hire women reentering the workforce after raising kids. With flexible hours, women are able to earn an income without compromising their families. “I think they appreciate [it],” Angela says. “They feel supported to do their most important job, which is raising their children…My father passed away when I was quite young. My mom had a tough time finding a job where she had the flexibility.”
From Maker To Mogul
After the victory at the holiday shop, Angela opened a boutique in the West Village. It was an ideal location with no traffic and high-profile locals. She was hopeful she’d experience the type of sales she did at the pop-up, but after a few days she realized she was in a new ballgame. Not many people were coming in, and those who did kept requesting skincare services.
For some business newbies, it would’ve been enough to cut losses and turn tail, but Angela responded differently by flipping a negative situation into something with positive potential. If customers wanted facials, she’d give them the best they ever had!
She began hiring notable estheticians to join her team and create treatments using her natural formulas. Thus Savor Spa, the eco-chic spa and boutique, was born. Today it has two locations (with a third opening in the fall) and offers not only organic skincare treatments but holistic massages, acupuncture, makeup services and wellness events. Like its resident skincare line, the spa has received a variety of accolades, and Angela has appeared on Fox Business News and MSNBC’s Your Business, as well as the Today Show as an expert guest and contributor. There’s a quote from Audrey Hepburn that resonates with Angela. “You have one hand to help yourself and the other to help others,” she shares. The desire to help others played a big role in the foundation of both Angela’s companies and, if anything, has taken center stage in her organization, Savor the Success, a network and community for women entrepreneurs. It provides networking opportunities, coaching and education through online schools that teach everything you’d want to know to take your business to the next level: Manifest Method School is a virtual online course that helps define your dream business and set tangible goals to make your vision a reality; PR School hooks members up with mentors and shows how to get quality press; and the Coaching Certification allows graduates of Manifest Method School to become leaders within the network community by teaching others the methods to success. The network also hosts live events and offers support through their Success Circles. “[It’s] my giveback by helping others build their dream businesses,” she says. “I think this is the most beautiful way to help other businesses grow.”
Another part of the brand is the digital and print lifestyle publication, Savor Life, as well as the popular Daily Action Planner developed by Angela after being asked by a friend, “How do you do everything that you do?” Based on the key principles taught in Manifest Method School, the planner shows how to sift through the chaos, prioritize and build the life you want, one day at a time.
Through all her different business endeavors, Angela has one collective goal: to inspire others to live lives they truly love. “We want people to come in and dream, and do, and savor their best lives,” she says of herself and her team. “If the Savor brand can help women do that in any way, I feel fulfilled and grateful to have made a difference!”
Taste Success: Expert Advice From Someone Who Knows
When she was a professional pianist, Angela learned certain success principles that propelled her to the place she’s in today. One is learning how to shift her perspective so she is proactive instead of reactive to what she refers to as the “gorgeous chaos” life throws her way. In fact, she shows others how to do the same in Manifest Method School. “Yes, I bite off more than I can chew,” she says. “But I know how to manage it. I know how to compartmentalize in my mind, and that’s what I teach other women.”
Another principle Angela lives by is persistence. She’s even taught the principle to her first-grader daughter, who in a class assignment reported that the most important thing her mom taught her was “Never give up.”
“It’s a very simple thing that even my six-year-old has grasped,” explains Angela. “No, you never give up. Get more creative. If you’re feeling down or feel like you failed, it’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day…Get up and do it again. I think that’s the most important thing that you can do to build success. Never give up!”
Savor Spa has locations at 114 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY, and at 327 W 11th St, New York, NY. A third location is slated to open in New York’s Upper West Side neighborhood in the fall. To book an appointment, visit www.savorspa.com. To learn more about Savor the Success, visit www.savorthesuccess.com. To shop her skincare line, go to www.omaroma.com. █