Behind Her Empire Podcast: NYX Cosmetics Founder Toni Ko On Building a $500M Brand When The Odds Are Against You

Behind Her Empire Podcast: NYX Cosmetics Founder Toni Ko On Building a $500M Brand When The Odds Are Against You

Toni Ko is the Founder of NYX Cosmetics and Bespoke Beauty Brands. At 13 years old, Toni came to the U.S. from Korea and got started in business almost immediately. Through working in her family business and having a desire to buy makeup she could afford, she saw a white space in the market for quality cosmetics at drugstore prices. At the age of 24, Toni was inspired to launch NYX Cosmetics and disrupt the cosmetics industry, aiming to provide department store beauty at a cheaper price.

Fifteen years later, NYX became a household name and eventually sold to L'Oreal for a reported half a billion dollars. Although she instantly became one of America's richest self-made women, Toni has openly talked about the personal challenges she faced while building the business and life after selling it. Toni lost her sense of self and fell into depression which made her realize that although money is valuable, it's not the key to happiness.


As the natural serial entrepreneur that she is, Toni fell back into her passion of starting businesses, where she felt the happiest and most recently returned to the beauty industry with her latest company, Bespoke Beauty Brands.

We talked with Toni about the personal sacrifices she made in her life and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur even when the odds are stacked against you. Toni shows us how being a college drop out, first generation immigrant and young woman in her early 20s was an advantage when it came to her fulfilling her dreams of starting her own business.

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

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Yang Photography.

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Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

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