What inspired you to share your home recipe skincare products with a bigger audience?
When I was feeling meh about my skin, I wasn’t the same person, I lost the spark in my eyes in how I saw myself. I thought- Wow, if I was feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable in my skin, there’s probably so many others that feel that exact same way. I had such an incredible experience falling in love with my skin after using natural ingredients and creating my own recipes, I just wanted to share it with others. I discovered myself and my skin in a whole new way, and I couldn’t help but want to share to make a difference with others too.
What was the biggest struggle you or Honey Belle overcame in the beginning stages of building your brand and business?
The biggest struggle is always the one I’m overcoming *now*, in the present. Each year, each month, each day of growth comes with new challenges. I’ve had to face new problems, new obstacles, and each time I conquer a certain set of obstacles, there are a new set of “evolved” obstacles. These challenges included hiring and training staff members, expanding the product line to retail stores, managing employees, creating new partnerships, etc. I find myself walking on a path that I’ve not crossed, and it’s scary, exciting, and enlivening all at the same time.
What are your self care rituals?
Aside from my skincare routine which consists of all Honey Belle products [ Yes, I actually do use all of my products religiously! ], self-care and mindful wellbeing are one of my favorite things to nurture on a daily basis. I practice focusing on my breath, and remaining calm and clear in the midst of discomfort and pain through yoga (on and off of my mat). I make it a point to *decide* beforehand how I want to feel about something, and if I’m frustrated or worried about something, I list 5 things I can let go of in that moment. And when I’m headed to bed, I list out 10 things I’m grateful for that day. Physical beauty and physical wellbeing is one thing, but together and combined with inner wellbeing, that’s where the magic is at.
Check out Iris' inspiring words on what makes her undefinable and her self care tips! For more from Iris, follow her at @irischerng.
Sara: I am uniquely me, always evolving in hopes of becoming the absolute best version of myself, without forgetting where I came from or those who have helped me along the way.
Seeing an Asian American woman as the senior fashion and beauty editor of Bustle makes us feel all kinds of inspiration. How did you build your career?
From the moment I picked up my first teen magazine, I knew I wanted to become a writer and create content for young women. I remember obsessing over issues of Cosmo Girl! and dreaming of one day becoming an Atoosa Rubenstein, the magazine's Editor-in-Chief. I loved how fun and honest she was and the fact that she got to play with makeup and clothes and give advice to teens for a living was basically the coolest thing ever to me. When I was in high school, I wrote her a letter asking how I could follow in her footsteps and she wrote me back! I took that as a sign that I should pursue journalism.
It was also no secret that there were not any women or girls who looked like me in the pages of the magazines that I read, the movies I watched, or even the music I listened to. I really wanted to pursue editorial not only because I loved writing and storytelling, but also because I wanted to create content for girls who looked just like me.
I majored in Communications and Professional Writing and Editing at UCSB and applied for as many writing internships as I could during my time in college. After graduation, I got my first real job as the Digital Editor at Tiger Beat Magazine. I had the opportunity to build their website and cover all of the latest teen stars like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas Brothers. The job taught me so much about working in the editorial world, from coming up with story ideas to interviewing celebrities. From there, I worked at another media company, where I helped create content for various websites like AOL and MSN. Then, I took a leap of faith and decided to go freelance. I knew I wanted to build my beauty and fashion portfolio even more, and that's how I found Bustle. I've been the West Coast Fashion and Beauty Editor at Bustle for the last 5 years and it has been the most incredible and rewarding job of my career so far. Only recently did I realize that I was actually doing what I had always set out to do — to create content for every kind of young woman (including those who look just like me) and to represent the Asian American women community. It is an honor and privilege, and I am so grateful that I get to call it my job!
Can you walk us through your daily skincare routine? (We need all the tips!)
I usually work out in the morning, so I won’t wash my face until after to prevent over-cleansing and drying my skin out. After my workout, I’ll use a cleanser (right now I’m using Tatcha's Rice Polish), followed by a toner to balance my skin’s pH, a vitamin C serum to brighten, a light but hydrating moisturizer, and then sunscreen with SPF 50 PA+++. Throughout the day, I’ll use a mist to keep my face looking fresh and feeling hydrated. At the end of the day, I’ll double cleanse if I’m wearing makeup. I’ll use a toner and then 2 to 3x a week I’ll use a mask of some sort depending on my needs. I’ll usually use an exfoliating peel once a week to get rid of dead skin cells as well as a hydrating and repairing one for maintenance. I’ll follow up with a serum, usually one with hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate and then once a week, a retinol to keep the wrinkles at bay. Then, I’ll lock in all the moisture with a moisturizer, a sleeping mask (for extra hydration) and a lip mask (because my lips are super dry.)
Tell us a little bit about your new podcast “Gloss Angeles.” We are so excited for this!
Gloss Angeles is a podcast that my beauty BFF and fellow Capricorn Kirbie Johnson and I started recently and we are so excited about it! Gloss Angeles gives our West Coast perspective on all things makeup, skincare, and wellness with a sprinkle of pop culture and celebrity (because we live in LA, after all). Through our podcast, we're hoping to pull back the curtain on beauty trends, treatments, and products in Hollywood, in order to help our listeners navigate the sometimes confusing, but wonderful world of beauty. Please give us a listen! :)
Yu-Chen: On a daily basis, I'm proving people wrong by building my own business - despite being told my entire life that my greatest success would be finding a husband who can provide for me.
What inspired you to build your brand and what would you tell others that want to follow in your footsteps?
I was actually inspired to build my own makeup brand out of frustration - I was frustrated by the lack of foundation options suitable for my complexion as an Asian woman who cannot find the right match in any of the western makeup brands, and is not fair enough to use products by Korean beauty brands. Since I was a young girl, beauty and makeup artistry has been my passion. In fact, I've been giving makeovers from the age of 11! However, my extremely strict and traditional Asian parents would not entertain the idea of me pursuing a career in any field besides medicine, law, finance and business. So, my passion in beauty was only allowed to play the part of a hobby. In college, I majored in advertising and marketing, and started my career as a media planner at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Coincidently, during this time, I was assigned to handle the advertising strategy of a global Asian beauty giant. For once in my life, I was finally able to unite my passion in beauty with my expertise as a marketer. With my newfound knowledge as a media planner specializing in diversity marketing, I began to see things in a different light: why is it that us Asian American women have been overlooked by the cosmetics industry for so long, despite the fact that we have one of the highest spending powers in the country? This was when I decided that I have to create the first American makeup brand specially tailored towards the skin tones and skin concerns of global modern Asian women.
To those who want to follow in my footsteps: My greatest advice is - don't let people who don't believe in you convince you that you are not capable of achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. If you have a brilliant idea, and people tell you that you're crazy or that it's not going to work - great! This means that your concept is unique enough to compete with existing businesses in the market. Believe in yourself, and don't give up the moment things get tough. Entrepreneurship is not an easy path, but building a brand from scratch is one of the most fulfilling things you can do.
Check out Yu-Chen's beautiful words on self-acceptance.