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

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.

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

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, SpotifyiHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Yang Photography.

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A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Courtesy of Brella

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

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“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

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