Practice makes perfect – if you aren’t good at certain things (cold pitching, financials, graphics, etc.), keep working and trying new methods and strategies until you are.
Kathy Chou is founder and CEO of Selfkaire, a beauty company focused on modernizing only the most effective Eastern medicine concepts to replace outdated tools and methods. Their facial & body roller is perfect as a natural and non-invasive tool to detox, contour and sculpt. Quintessentially multipurpose, they’re here to replace your bulky, basic tools (think jade roller, gua sha, foam roller, etc.) with the cute, compact Kairetool. She decided to pivot from her finance career after she realized she wasn’t passionate about what she was doing and felt she wouldn’t be able to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
Kathy heads business strategy with many years managing large transactions and projects at major financial institutions. Prior to Selfkaire, she worked in investment banking, financial consulting and credit research at an investment management fund. She has a math & economics degree from UCSD and attended University of Pennsylvania – Wharton for her MBA, with multiple scholarships and educational honors.
Kathy lives in Los Angeles, California and is incredibly passionate about beauty. She spends majority of her free time A/B testing and scrutinizing trends and products around the world. She also loves video games, horror, murder mysteries (especially cold cases) and escape rooms (note: will get angry if she fails to escape).
Where did the idea for Selfkaire come from?
Selfkaire was created out of necessity after working exhausting sedentary 80-100+ hour weeks, resulting in a host of health issues. No luck with her doctors, Kathy finally visited her family’s Eastern medicine practitioner. This transformed her view on health and she spent the next 8 years deep dive researching ancient Eastern medicine to weed out convoluted, ineffective methods to bring you a truly disruptive beauty brand. Our team has spent 10 years researching this topic with top Eastern Medicine practitioners in China to innovate beyond what already exists. Our products are utility and design patent-pending, developed by world-class engineers who head R&D teams for the top global consumer product company in both aesthetics and design. The innovations within our product, protected in our utility patent, covers the concept we’re using in the tools.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Honestly, my work days are erratic. You never know what might come up and I’ve developed so many skills I never thought I’d need (web development, UX/UI design, graphic designing, ad creation, marketing strategy, etc.). I keep tight internal deadlines on high priority items and make sure I get through them no matter what. I stay productive by remembering that if I’m not working, no progress is being made towards my goals and the result of that is something I cannot and will not accept.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I come from a heavy quant background and every idea I have requires heavy research and reflection. My ideas are rooted in creating a solution to an existing problem, as I believe everything must have utility. I try to think of every angle and possibility before I execute and once I decide to begin, I create many prototypes and thoroughly test before I finalize.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Western trends intermingling with trends from around the world. Increased acceptance of foreign trends for faster progress in every industry.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The most productive adjustment I have made is to allow myself to operate on my natural sleep cycle. Unfortunately, I am a night owl by nature and working early mornings or finance market hours previously was taking a toll on my productivity. My brain functions probably at 20% before 9 AM and 30% before 10 AM, whereas I hit my peak at night. Adjusting my sleep cycle allows me to tap my max productivity for as many hours as possible!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be whoever you want to be and do what you want (so long as you’re not hurting others).
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People might think they know what they want but they don’t. While their input is useful, they can only assess based on their existing knowledge, so it’s up to you to introduce new concepts and ideas to them to broaden their horizon.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn everything and anything your business needs to expand. It’s annoying and time consuming (especially if certain topics aren’t your specialty), but having more knowledge is better than having less. You will make much more informed decisions with a larger scope of knowledge.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Learn from other companies who execute well in areas you’re trying to expand. You won’t always have the time to idea generate completely new concepts for everything so pick brands/companies that you like (not necessarily in the same vertical) and see how you can apply it to yours. It’s time saving and effective with less risk. You’re taking inspiration from an idea that has already proven its concept, your job is to properly convert it so it is applicable for you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Trusting “experts” within certain industries. Whether it’s lawyers, web developers, graphic designers, I’ve learned you (or your team) need to do your own due diligence in everything to ensure quality work. When I first started, I assumed they had more expertise in the subject matter due to their industry experience. I’m a naturally curious person so in my free time, I took a cursory glance in the subject matters I was outsourcing and found egregious errors and overstatement of difficulty levels in the work I was requesting (resulting in gross overcharging). Now, I vet everything I outsource to make sure I’m paying for actual, accurate work done
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you’re a product based startup, make sure you have a repeat purchase product on the horizon at some point to keep customers engaged and interested. But, put careful thought into the product so you don’t lose customer loyalty from just producing an average product.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Adobe Stock Images + Lightroom + Photoshop + Illustrator. Having the ability to work on my own graphics have been a time saver and reduced the long, arduous exchanges I would normally have to endure to get something done. It also gives me the ability to crank out last minute fire drills and not wait on someone’s response.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My iCal calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, it basically doesn’t exist. My days are so busy that things easily fall through the cracks so I calendar everything (including to-do’s).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Three Body Problem – Liu Cixin
Personally I prefer fiction (specifically dystopian) to learn about the possibility of consequences humanity hasn’t yet experienced. It also opens up the realm of human thought processes that inspired the writer.
What is your favorite quote?
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley
• Never compromise timelines of critical projects – because no one is giving you hard deadlines, you need to give them to yourself.
• Practice makes perfect – if you aren’t good at certain things (cold pitching, financials, graphics, etc.), keep working and trying new methods and strategies until you are.
• Time and effort don’t produce results, so don’t think of hard work as time spent, hard work is smart work: efficient and successful.
• Carefully analyze all failures to reduce chances of repeating. At the same time, carefully analyze successes to weed out occurrences from luck so you can formulate a strategy going forward.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.