Behind Her Empire: How Tatcha Founder Vicky Tsai Quit Her Job and Built an Empire

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Vicky Tsai, founder of Japanese beauty brand Tatcha, had a nontraditional path to eventually founding one of the top skincare companies today.

About 10 years ago, Tsai decided to leave her thriving career and travel the world in search of happiness and meaning in her life.


When visiting Kyoto, Japan as part of her travels, Tsai said she had a life-changing meeting with a geisha. She learned some of their natural skincare secrets which healed her skin and soul in the truest sense and she wanted to bring the same experience back with her to the U.S.

"I think a lot of us when we feel lost, we travel, it's somehow as if I can't find myself in in this moment in this life, maybe if I take myself out of this situation to you know, places very foreign, and where I have no safety net, then maybe that's when I'll find myself," she said.

Tsai's success did not come easy. She struggled for years to get her company off the ground and was over $600,000 in debt at the time. When she started it, there were few direct-to-consumer brands. Asian beauty and skincare wasn't a thing and no one was interested in clean formulas for their skin.

Today, Tatcha is available in Sephora and QVC and is the second fastest-growing, women-led company on the Inc 5000 list. Last year, Unilever acquired Tatcha for a reported $500 million.

Tsai said Tatcha has also partnered with the nonprofit Room to Read in their mission to educate girls globally. She said the company has so far sponsored over 3 million days of school.

In the rest of this episode, Tsai talks about how social entrepreneurship and business can be a vehicle for social change and how the Room to Read program changed her perspective on money, risk and success.

Want to hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast? Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Audience Engagement Editor Luis Gomez contributed to this post.

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Harrison Weber

Harrison is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. They previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find them on Twitter: @harrisonweber. Send non-sensitive tips on L.A. deals to harrison@dot.la. Pronouns: they/them.

Do you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely by downloading Signal on a non-work device: +1 917 434 4978.

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