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From College Dropout to Self-Made Millionaire

Posted by Andrea Welzien on Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Toni Ko, founder of NYX Cosmetics, became interested in cosmetics when she was a teenager. Since she couldn’t afford department store brands, she would try to replicate higher-end looks using drugstore brands.

Originally from South Korea, Ko’s family moved to California when she was 13. They went from working in the fabric industry to fragrance and cosmetics. Ko learned a lot working for her parents after school and on weekends, and quickly developed a passion for makeup. She dropped out of Glendale Community College and decided to start her own business. With 250K in startup funding from her parents, she knew she wanted to fill the need for quality cosmetics at drugstore prices.

She started her company NYX—pronounced “nix” and named after the Greek goddess of the night—in 1999. Determined not to sacrifice quality, but still keep her prices affordable, she did all research and development herself. Making sure her products were created to her exact specifications, she managed to keep her prices low. Her eye and lip pencils sold for just $1.99!

Her company quickly took off. She made $4 million in the first year alone! And when the economy took a dive in 2008, shoppers who had previously been buying prestige brands were turning to more affordable alternatives. By 2014, sales were on track to reach $120 million in just one year. In keeping with her goal of selling 3 companies before she retires, NYX was purchased by L’Oréal for $500 million and Ko found herself a lot richer.

After only a few days of being jobless and already finding herself bored, Ko decided to start another business. Her noncompete agreement meant she couldn’t be in the cosmetics market for five years, so she turned to another passion—sunglasses. She owned more than 100 pairs of shades herself, most of which retailed for around $300. She wanted to bring her same business motto of high quality and affordability to sunglasses. Thus, her company, “Perverse” was born in 2016 and each pair of shades retailed for around $60.

Ko now has two companies in the books out of her goal to achieve 3 companies sold before she retires. She is an inspiration to woman all around the world and has proven that if you put your mind to it, you can do it. Probably already brainstorming future brand possibilities, we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2018 at 5:04 pm and is filed under Cosmetic Leaders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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