“Appreciate Korean cultures, stand with Koreans, and be an ally to us. As a lot as you’re keen on our magnificence [rituals], you higher love our folks, too.”
Multi-talented journalist, model founder and creator David Yi is a magnificence trade powerhouse. With over a decade of expertise underneath his belt within the New York media house (the place he’s written for publications like WWD and Mashable), Yi launched his personal inclusive magnificence website, Very Good Light, in 2016. His newest ventures embody a brand new genderless skincare model referred to as Good Light and an upcoming ebook referred to as Pretty Boys (to be launched June 22).
Kicking off our collection of name founder interviews for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we caught up with Yi to speak all issues magnificence, together with why he’s launched not one however two inclusive magnificence manufacturers, and the way customers can admire Korean magnificence with out fetishizing cultural practices and rituals.
How did you make the transition from journalism to product growth?
“I’ve been a journalist for over a decade, principally within the trend and sweetness house, working for locations just like the New York Daily News, WWD and Mashable. Along the journey, I felt the sweetness house was so gendered. For occasion, why are magnificence aisles so separated by the gender binary when there are, and have at all times been, extra expressions of gender than simply male or feminine? It additionally felt so alienating strolling down each aisles realizing that neither catered to somebody like me — a shopper who shaves but additionally likes to beat their face every so often. One part is hyperfeminine whereas the opposite is hypermasculine, however I don’t assume most customers determine by both. It made me assume there was room for extra gender inclusivity and for the sweetness trade to actually be an area for all.”
How did you first get into journalism?
“I began in highschool at my faculty’s newspaper, The Lever. I at all times wrote about Asian American points or centred my expertise round being Korean American, which didn’t go down properly with my editors. I bear in mind one white lady editor telling me that they might not publish tales on Asians as a result of they didn’t need to be labeled an ‘Asian newspaper.’ The xenophobia is actual, folx. It made me understand that this individual didn’t see Asians as Americans — and I needed to struggle for each single considered one of my tales to be printed. It was an uphill battle however I’m so grateful for these experiences that really ready me for the hardcore journalism world in New York City.”
The democratization of magnificence is a significant pillar of your manufacturers. Can you inform me why that’s necessary to you?
“I grew up in Colorado Springs as one of many solely Asian Americans in a predominantly white metropolis. I’ve at all times felt othered and as if I didn’t belong. There was additionally this notion that I wasn’t stunning due to my almond eyes, my jet black hair, or my golden pores and skin tone. Because I confronted racism early on, it was important for me to turn into an advocate and activist at a younger age — to struggle for others in addition to for my very own folks. This early expertise allowed me to really feel an important sense of empathy in the direction of others, and is the principle purpose I turned a journalist. I wished to inform tales from all views and uplift others’ tales and their voices in order that they really feel empowered.”
What has it been like launching a model throughout the pandemic?
“It’s each rewarding and difficult. I used to be additionally concurrently engaged on my first ebook, Pretty Boys, which is non-fiction and a deep dive into the historical past of males, masc-identifying folx and their relationship with magnificence and energy. I additionally labored on our marketing campaign, BIDEN Beauty, which was immediately viral and raised funds for the DNC. I used to be so busy and distracted with productiveness that I coped with my ache and anguish by means of suppressing it. I’m now decompressing, reflecting and in addition uplifting throughout this time. And therapeutic — I’m undoubtedly making an attempt to heal.”
You’ve stated earlier than you by no means felt represented within the magnificence neighborhood since you favored sheet masks and make-up, but additionally facial hair grooming and so on. Can you elaborate on that and the way Good Light addresses that duality?
“Good Light is a magnificence model that’s all about unleashing your personal good mild from inside. First and foremost, it’s about self-actualization and love, self-worth and proudly owning your magnificence. If magnificence is within the eye of the beholder, be that beholder. Only you may set the tone in relation to energy and company. I hope that Good Light can proceed being a protected house to discover who you might be, your identification and your energy. And we need to create merchandise for all, regardless of your gender identification, race, measurement, pores and skin tone, pores and skin texture, sexuality.”
What has it been prefer to witness so many Korean magnificence rituals and practices turn into part of North American magnificence? Does it hassle you to listen to these practices be referred to as “developments”?
“It bothered me after I was youthful that Americans would uncover different cultures and label them ‘developments’ as if we had been discoveries for them to uncover. In actuality, we’ve at all times been right here. We’ve at all times thrived. We’ve at all times been stunning; it’s simply that others had been sluggish to acknowledge centuries of our wealthy ancestry. While I’m all about sharing cultures, I’m not for fetishization or objectifying anybody based mostly on their race or background. I like that Okay-beauty is democratized for all — it’s as a result of Korean know-how is the world’s greatest. But I’m additionally for appreciating cultures as properly. Appreciate Korean cultures, stand with Koreans, and be an ally to us. As a lot as you’re keen on our magnificence [rituals], you higher love our folks, too.”
If Good Light was round once you had been rising up in Colorado Springs, how wouldn’t it have modified your strategy to magnificence? What would a model like this have meant to you?
“It would have been so transformative. It would have been every part. To really feel like seen, heard and validated would have meant the world. Representation issues — and I nonetheless cling onto Very Good Light and Good Light selfishly in instances after I, too, want neighborhood.”
Growing up, what was your relationship to magnificence like?
“I grew up with a Korean mom and father who each emphasised magnificence merchandise. My father would groom himself by slathering his pores with essences, toners and lotions. My mom would do the identical, inculcating to a younger, impressionable me how necessary sunscreen is. I didn’t know this on the time however now after reflection, I perceive how that was their method of coping in opposition to American racism and surviving by means of hardships. With each drench of their pores, they had been practising self-love. Five minutes each morning and evening was a routine only for them, the place they might quiet the world and be aware, current and within the second.”
What are your objectives Good Light?
“My objectives for Good Light are to persevering with championing range, inclusivity and understanding that now we have a lot work to do! I’m rolling up my sleeves day by day and seeing how I may also help.”
What would you like the model to say to individuals who really feel like they don’t belong?
“I hope that Good Light portrays magnificence past the binary. There’s a lot energy and sweetness on the market. We — collectively, all of us — are worthy and I hope this magnificence model exhibits that sure, a model can provide a rattling!”