Three Questions With NYX Cosmetics Founder Toni Ko
By Veronica Dagher
Toni Ko was in her mid-20s when she started her makeup company,
NYX Cosmetics. With seed money from her mother, the Korean
immigrant transformed the business from a solo operation into a
company that was eventually acquired by L'Oreal SA for a reported
Ms. Ko says the early lessons she learned from her parents about
entrepreneurship and money shaped her into the businesswoman she is
today. Although she worked hard for it, she found early retirement
boring and disappointing.
She recently sat down with The Wall Street Journal for an
interview for the Secrets of Wealthy Women podcast. Here are a few
Q. You worked in your parents' perfume and cosmetics business
until you were in your mid-20s and then you decide to start your
own company. How come?
A. I was 25 and living at home. My mom never paid me. She said,
"You have a roof over your head and you have clothes on your back
and food in your belly."
I was at an age where I was having my own ideas of how we should
run the family business and we were clashing.
I saw a gap in the market. I saw a niche. Expensive makeup
products were really good but they were super expensive. I couldn't
afford it. Most of my friends couldn't afford them. But then the
cheapies that you bought at drugstores were really horrible. And I
just thought, "Hey, you know what? I have learned enough in the
beauty industry and I know what I want myself. I could launch a
Q. What did your mom tell you about entrepreneurship?
A. She wrote me a $250,000 check. Yeah, she's a very smart
woman. I've paid her so much interest on that money! And now I'm
That woman has guts. She says to me, "You know what? Don't worry
about failing. Do whatever you want to do."
Q. You sold NYX to L'Oreal for a reported $500 million. You
retired for a short time after that but decided that you didn't
like retirement. How come?
A. I realized that money is the least fun thing out of
everything. It's not that I don't like money. I like it. I'm an
The chase is a lot more fun than the kill itself. There was so
much adrenaline getting to the deal and once the deal happened, I
felt like a balloon that just got popped. I felt very unproductive
and I felt like I lost my identity. I didn't know who I was anymore
and it wasn't good.
You wake up in the morning, get in the shower and get ready for
work, that's a purpose for the day. And when you don't have that
you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you.
That's why I started my second company, which is a sunglasses
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Write to Veronica Dagher at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 28, 2020 09:41 ET (14:41 GMT)
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