Despite numerous skincare products in the market, many express difficulties in finding the perfect solution for their skin. Based on this common yet unsolvable problem, two Ewha alumnae, Kim Ye-sol and Lee Se-kyung, created Monthly Cosmetics, an online store providing customized monthly subscription of face cream and shampoo. The innovative idea for Monthly Cosmetics came to Kim and Lee one day as she was going through her daily skincare routine.
“As I was applying toner, lotion, cream, eye cream, essence, and the usual many steps, it suddenly struck me odd as to why we spend so much time applying so many products,” Kim said. “Most products have the same ingredients with only one or two differences, which got us thinking, ‘Why not combine them into a single product that has all the necessary ingredients?’”
On top of the efficiency of applying products, they focused on relieving customers’ burden with cheaper and fresher products. “By having to buy just a single product, customers save money,” commented Lee. “Currently, skincare products are large sized, have a shelf-life of two years, and contain preservatives to be so. Why not enable customers to spend less money on a fresher product?”
Before such ideas, both alumnae had paid great attention to the ingredients of their daily skincare products, but also felt inconvenience, having to compare the products once by one. “Once I started to pay attention to the cosmetics industry, I realized that it was me, the customer, who was getting the shorter end of the stick by having to compare all the ingredients and then pay for the entire value chain and costly advertisements,” commented Kim, Based on such attention toward customers’ needs and desires, Monthly Cosmetics was established on March 2017, and two months later, the start-up was already receiving regular shipping orders. Despite the company’s seemingly rapid success, Kim and Lee faced many difficulties in launching and promoting their customized products.
“Changing people’s thoughts on skincare was the most difficult part,” said Kim. “People could not understand that a single ‘My Cream’ is good enough for skincare due to their long habit of using multiple step routines.”
“Also, during the first few shipping, many thought we’ve sent out samples, rather than the full product,” recalled Lee. “There is no one-month sized products. Products in the market are bulk-sized, larger with longer shelf-life compared to our product, and it surprised a lot of our customers.”
Despite such struggles in the beginning, Kim and Lee’s unique approach and their fresh and honest products are captivating consumers’ hearts. “Once there was an incident where a customer left the cream out for too long,” Kim recalled. “Mold had grown on the cream and we were worried that people would turn away from the product.
However, many expressed fascination and trust for our product and deemed it to be an apparent proof of being truly organic and fresh.” My Cream and My Shampoo are the only products Monthly Cosmetics sells. After signing up on the Monthly Cosmetics website, customers can take skin type tests for My Cream and My Shampoo. The test asks various questions such as dryness, frequency of breakouts, sensitivity, and once the test is finished, the customer is left with a personalized product and a monthly subscription program that one can sign up for. Though people are familiar with the need for customized creams, customized shampoos created a wave of interest and praise.
“Like face creams, shampoos also play a large role in our daily care,” Kim said. “Though it’s often looked over, there are many different types of scalps and negligence can lead to negative results such as hair loss, scalp acne, and dryness.”
Rather than to expand the customization to various types of products, Kim and Lee expressed hopes to maintain the current products and focus on further diversifying customization for the two products, suitable for each individual customer.
“Through our product, we hope the customers to focus on themselves than to fit into the generic market,” said Lee. Based on the aim “focus on yourself,” in a much broader sense, like their business, Kim and Lee’s ultimate goal is to resolve unfairness in the market and society.
“Like our intention behind Monthly Cosmetics: to eliminate unnecessary costs paid by customers, we hope to contribute to the society through acts of battling unfairness.”