Jean and Kenneth Baik, co-founders of Dallas-based beauty dollar store Miss A, are stepping up store openings and plan to have 200 stores open over the next five years.
The company, which has 300 employees and is growing by reinvesting profits, had sales of well into the eight figures last year from its shopmissa.com e-commerce business and a dozen Miss A stores in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.
The retailer has already opened three stores this year and now has eight in D-FW, six in Houston and one in Albuquerque, N.M. Fifteen more stores are planned this year, including in Austin, San Antonio, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Rogers, Ark.
Since it started its business online in 2013 and then opened its debut store in Grapevine Mills in 2016, Miss A has had to win over shoppers asking “Is this a scam? How can this be just $1?”
In addition to makeup, eyelashes, bath bombs, nail products and beauty tools, such as brushes and sponge applicators, the retailer has added other categories, including jewelry, hair accessories, seasonal items, storage and greeting cards. Stores carry 5,000 items with new items added weekly such as press-on nails and nail stickers that are coming this summer.
The hot pink teardrop-shaped makeup sponge applicators are often compared on social media with a $20 version sold at Sephora.
Jean Baik said the company has strong relationships with the same manufacturers in South Korea and Taiwan that produce for the major makeup and beauty brands sold in drugstores and mass merchants. Miss A, which is named for Baik’s Korean middle name Jin-Ah, can sell items for $1 because it sells directly to the consumer “without a middleman.”
“We can negotiate good prices. We also save money on packaging. We won’t change a formula, but instead of a glass bottle, we’ll use plastic,” she said. Some items that are priced up to $1.88 are part of a charity collection that gives back, a retail standard that Miss A’s customers — mostly Gen Z and millennials — care about, she said.
Inflation and supply chain-forced hikes in shipping costs have cut into profits. “It’s been very difficult the past few years, but we’ve pivoted and plan way ahead,” she said. “We just have to be alert, and we’re investing everything back into the company.”
If the economy is heading for a downturn, Miss A is already positioned as a budget-friendly retailer. “When the pandemic started, we were worried. Are people going to come out? We had fears.”
Sales last year surpassed pre-pandemic annual revenue, and the couple decided to move ahead with their expansion plans.
“Our goal is to be a national chain in the next three to five years with more than 200 stores,” said Baik, who’s 36.
After college and working in fashion in New York, Baik, who is Miss A’s chief merchandising officer, moved to Dallas in 2013 when the couple married. Kenneth Baik, 38, CEO, grew up in North Dallas and graduated from Pearce High School in Richardson. He worked in California and China but wanted to move back to Dallas to start a business.
“We wanted to start our own company. I always had a passion for beauty, and my husband had experience in retail, manufacturing and sourcing,” Baik said.
So far, the Baiks haven’t taken on investors and will self-fund the expansion. “We took it slow at the beginning, starting out with a 2,000-square-foot warehouse, and we’ve outgrown it every couple years.”
Social media catapulted the brand, first with customers talking up Miss A on YouTube and then more recently on TikTok, where Miss A has more than 75 million views.
Miss A’s expansion is happening as two big U.S. beauty retailers are looking for new customers with shops-in-stores. Sephora is opening inside Kohl’s stores and Ulta inside Target locations. Both beauty giants are also opening free-standing stores. By the end of this year, Sephora shops will be phased out of J.C. Penney stores after a 15-year agreement ends. Lewisville-based Penney has created its version of a beauty department.
This story was updated Monday afternoon to update 2021 sales figures as having been well into the eight figures.
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