This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Glamour is celebrating AAPI leaders in the beauty space by bringing together founders of large and small beauty brands for a discussion on the joys and struggles of creating a business, the secrets to success, and the overall state of the industry.
Next up, Stephanie Lee, former staffer to Michelle Obama and founder of mental-health-focused skincare brand Selfmade, talks to Vicky Tsai, founder of Japanese-inspired skin-care line Tatcha, about the importance of self-care, creating a unified AAPI community, and taking up space within a white-male-dominated industry.
On AAPI Heritage Month
Vicky Tsai: I led some research at Harvard Business School on the state of AAPI women in business. I just got the results from that, and I’m starting to share that information out in every place I can. The statistics are eye-opening.
Stephanie Lee: I was in New York at the start of a AAPI Heritage Month, where things are so culturally diverse and I got to eat all the foods. I got to hang out with my family, which is pretty rare since we all live across the country.
On Stop Asian Hate, one year later
Stephanie: On less of a happy note, I haven’t taken the subway since 2019 when I left New York, and I’m fearful for my parents coming from North Carolina. So while we are excited to come together, this is also such an interesting time where we’re potentially in an uncomfortable spotlight. There’s a bit of conflict I feel inside.
Vicky: I had the same experience. I was in New York last week to support Room to Read, which is an organization that Tatcha partners with. While I was there, Sephora asked me to take a picture with a billboard that they have of me in Times Square; even though my hotel was very close by, I waited until I had a group of people with me that I could go with because I did not feel comfortable going myself in case I got attacked.
I know we want to be uplifting our community, so I’ve recently had unique opportunities to connect with AAPI leaders from various industries, including artists and writers. We are all trying to figure out how to further the conversation and increase representation and make things better for those coming after us and in our own lanes, and that is very heartening because it’s progress.
Stephanie: I’ve always been an activist at heart, working in politics and government, but I’m still figuring out what my voice sounds like within the AAPI conversation. How do I speak loudly when silence and getting along with everyone has been the norm? It’s been really interesting to see people break shit and get a little messy, trying to figure out what their voice sounds like in a stronger way. That’s really cool to see as a part of the AAPI community when I haven’t seen it my whole entire life.